Wednesday, March 8, 2017

J/Newsletter- March 8th, 2017

J/70 Sailing Champions LeagueSAILING Champions League 2017 Series
Three Regattas Planned- Russia, Switzerland & Italy
(Hamburg, Germany)- For the 2017 season, more than 300 sailing clubs from 13 countries are participating in the SAILING Champions League (SCL) that will identify the best sailing club in Europe. From Finland to Italy, from Poland to the United Kingdom– thousands of leading sailors from the top sailing clubs across Europe are once again caught up with SAILING Champions League fever!  Many teams were practicing in the YC Monaco J/70 Winter Series finale last weekend to get in much needed practice!

The SCL regatta dates for 2017 are:
  • Act 1: 11th – 13th August, St. Petersburg Yacht Club, St Petersburg, Russia
  • Act 2: 1st – 3rd September, Segel-Club St Moritz, St Moritz, Switzerland
  • Finale: 22nd – 24th September, Yacht Club Costa Smeralda, Porto Cervo, Italy
J/70 Sailing Champions League off SardiniaIn the SAILING Champions League, the best sailing clubs from around Europe meet and compete in exciting races on the wildly popular J/70 class for the championship trophy that is decided at YC Costa Smeralda in Italy.

Only the leading national sailing leagues are allowed to take part.  For 2017, the four best clubs from each national league will take part in one of the two qualification races (St Petersburg or St Moritz).  Those SCL national leagues include Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

From the St Petersburg and St Moritz events, the top 15 clubs will qualify for the big finale in Porto Cervo at the end of the season.  The teams will sail from September 22nd to 24th, 2017 at the fabulous sailing facilities provided by the host- YC Costa Smeralda.

For more SAILING Champions League information, please contact Julia Egge at phone +49-40-226-316-465/ email- website: or Facebook-

J/70 sailing Helly Hansen Warsash seriesHELLY HANSEN Warsash Spring Series Preview
(Warsash, England)- An important annual rite of passage in the English springtime is about to take place on the Solent this coming weekend!  Dust off those boots, toss the boat in the water, get some new gear from HELLY HANSEN and get ready for the insanely popular spring sailing event known as the HELLY HANSEN Warsash Spring Series.  For six weekends, Londoners, Welshmen (and women), a few Scots, a smattering of Irish, and even a few intrepid Dutch, French and Beneluxers head to the Southampton Water to test their luck and skills navigating around the tricky waters of the infamous Solent.

Host to this bacchanalian affair is the Warsash Sailing Club, famous for their post-race social festivities and their daily awards ceremony.  Hundreds of passionate J/Sailors will be participating over the six Sundays- March 12-19-26 and April 2-9-23.  In fact, nine J/teams make up 31% of the IRC fleet and the 32 J/one-design teams help make up for an amazing 60% of the entire armada heading out each Sunday morning down the Hamble River.

On offer for those adventurers are four IRC divisions, J/109 and J/88 classes in the Black Group and J/70 and J/80 classes in the White Group. For Black Group there will be one race a day around the cans for the first four Sundays, then two races a day on the last two dates. White Group sports boats will enjoy three races on laid courses each week.

All classes included in the Spring Series can enter the CREWSAVER Warsash Spring Championship that will run on the two weekends of April 8-9 and April 22-23. In addition, there is a Mixed Sports boat Class for J/70 and J/80 sailors to collect even more pickle dishes for the mantelpiece!

J/88 sailing Warsash seriesSeries Chairman, Peter Bateson, commented, "The Warsash Sailing Club (WSC) is looking forward to welcoming everyone for what should be another great Series of racing out in the Solent. Our 110-strong experienced RC/PRO teams will be aiming as always to provide first-class, well-run racing afloat and a friendly welcome ashore combined with good value for money for competitors!  Plus, we again welcome aboard, and greatly appreciate, our sponsors for both events- HELLY HANSEN of Norway and CREWSAVER of the United Kingdom.”

Starting this weekend on the Black Group division is the IRC, J/88 and J/109 classes.  In IRC are nine J/crews participating, including the pretty new J/122E JUNO sailed by Chris Daniel, three J/111s (Paul Griffiths’ new JAGERBOMB, Cornel Riklin’s JITTERBUG, & Simon Bamford’s KESTREL), two J/92s (Brian Malone’s BLUE DIAMOND DODJER & David Greenhalgh’s J’RONIMO), two J/97s (Helen Hofmann’s JASLAN & Rachel & Robert Hunt’s JUMBLESAIL 2) and the new J/112E skippered by Peter Symons.

With their largest turnout as a one-design class so far, the nine J/88s will certainly be having a rip-roaring good time if the breeze is nuking down the Solent against a 4.5 kts current!  Ready to send it down the track are both veterans and some newcomers.  This year’s teams include Paul Ward’s notorious EAT SLEEP J REPEAT, David & Kirsty Apthorp’s fast J-DREAM, Paul Heys & P Tait’s JENGA, Richard Cooper’s colorful JONGLEUR, Alistair Ray’s JUMUNU FIVE, Tim Tolcher’s RAJIN’ BULL, Dianne & Dirk Van Beek’s SABRIEL JR, and Gavin Howe’s TIGRIS.

Still popular with the cruising set is the wonderfully comfortable, and fast, J/109 class.  Seven teams will be dueling on the line, including a number of past Hamble Winter, Warsash Spring, Cowes, and Round Island Champions!  Leading the charge could be Owain Franks’ JYNNAN TONNYX, but they will be chased hard by Robert Stiles’ DIAMOND JEM, Susie & Mike Yates’ JAGO, Simon Perry’s JIRAFFE, David McGough’s JUST SO, Chris Burleigh’s JYBE TALKIN’, and Rob Cotterill’s MOJO RISIN’.

Over on the White Group starting area is the so-called “Sportboat” course.  Here we find, not surprisingly, the largest turnout of J/teams in the J/70 fleet- a dirty dozen strong group of blood-thirsty pirates ready to go to war for a pint’s worth of bragging rights at the WSC bar afterwards.  Avast, ‘ye mateys!  They are sure havin’ fun!  Back at it again with some newbies sprinkled into the mix are teams like Simon Cavey’s JUST4PLAY, Dave Mcleman’s OFFBEAT, Ian Wilson’s SOAK RACING, Patrick Liardet’s COSMIC and Graham Clapp’s JEEPSTER.  For the J/80s, the leading teams should include Jon Powell’s BETTY and Terry O’Neill’s AQUA-J.  Sailing photo credits- Tim Wright and Paul Wyeth.  For more HELLY HANSEN Warsash Spring Series sailing information

Newport to Cabo San Lucas raceNewport to Cabo Race Preview
(Newport Beach, CA)- The first major Southern California offshore race of 2017 will be starting this coming weekend.  The Newport Harbor YC team is hosting the Newport to Cabo San Lucas Yacht Race. Since 1971, sailors have enjoyed the 800nm blast down the Baja coastline to the warm weather and big breeze of Cabo San Lucas- it is a fantastic “destination race” since you get to enjoy the fun and the sun of one of Mexico’s premiere resorts on the very southern tip of the Baja Peninsula.  Plus, on the typically long downwind race in 15-25 kts of breeze, the amount of sea life you encounter is quite literally J/125 Timeshaver sailing Newport Cabo Racemind-blowing!  Giant whales, sunfish, huge schools of dolphin, sharks and wahoo are flying all over the place!

The race also serves as a great “tune-up” for the annual summer yacht races such as the Transpac or Pacific Cup.  Like those races across the eastern Pacific Ocean, the racers often enjoy the sunny afternoons and warm, moonlit evenings as they journey down the coast.  Looking forward to their “training run” is the J/125 TIMESHAVER, skippered by Viggo Torbensen of Dana Point Yacht Club! Sailing photo credits- Sharon Green/ Ultimate  For more Newport to Cabo Race sailing information

Havana, Cuba- Marina Hemingway Miami to Havana Race Preview
(Miami, FL)- On March 15th, Wednesday, the Coral Reef Yacht Club and Hemingway International Yacht Club of Cuba, along with SORC as Race Committee, proudly look forward to starting the second Miami to Havana Race!

In the past year, SORC competitors have raced to the Bahamas in the Nassau Cup Race, Key West in the Ft. Lauderdale to Key West Race, and to Jamaica in the Pineapple Cup Montego Bay Race, yet the crown jewel sitting geographically between all of those terrific winter racing destinations, Cuba, remained out of reach. This changed on December 17, 2014, when President Barack Obama uttered the words, “Good afternoon. Today, the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba.”. American sailors were once again allowed to legally race to Cuba. The SORC organization distributed a survey, asking various questions about a potential race to Cuba, and developed this race based on the responses.

Miami Havan race courseThe race starts just south of the Miami harbor entrance and is the final race for the Gulf Stream Series.  The race finishes at the entrance to Havana’s famous yacht harbor- Marina Hemingway- home to the International Yacht Club of Cuba.

There are two enthusiastic J/teams sailing in the 2017 edition that has twenty-three keelboats in four handicap classes.  The later start in March seems to have helped increase overall race participation.  In PHRF A Class, Frank Atkinson’s J/125 RAISIN’ CANE from Coconut Grove Sailing Club will be hoping to beat some fast Class 40s and 70 footers.  Then, in PHRF B class, Gary Weisberg’s J/111 HEAT WAVE is taking on two Hobie 33s, a 1D35 and a Farr 395.  For more Miami to Havana Race sailing information

Richmond YC Big Daddy RegattaBig Daddy Regatta Preview
(Point Richmond, CA)- The first major offshore event on San Francisco Bay will be taking place this weekend, the incredibly fun Big Daddy Regatta hosted by Richmond YC on the northeastern part of the Bay.  The format is enjoyed by many sailors, with a random leg buoys race on Saturday followed by a PHRF handicapped “pursuit race” on Sunday.

Eleven J’s (about 1/3 of the fleet) from across all points of the compass on the Bay are looking forward to the start of their 2017 offshore season!  Sailing in the PHRF Racing class is a quartet of J/88s that can’t wait to get wet!  Those teams include Gary Panariello’s COURAGEOUS from Sausalito YC, Jimi Hopp’s WHITE SHADOW from the San Francisco Singlehanded Society, Marc McMorri’s J88, and Steven Gordon’s INCONCEIVABLE.  Joining them on the race track are a broad range of J’s, such as Richard Stockdale’s J/24 FROG LIPS, Alex Huang’s J/29 L20, Chris Boome’s J/32 RHAPSODY, Robert George’s J/35 KIRI, Dick Maclay’s J/105 YELLOWFIN, Brian Richards’ J/109 LA VIAJERA, and Jack Clapper’s J/44 PHANTOM.

For Sunday’s Pursuit Race, the PHRF fleet will see the addition of Robert Hrubes’ J/30 PREPARATION J.
For more Big Daddy Regatta sailing information

J/70s sailing Alcatel Italy CupALCATEL J/70 Cup Series Announcement
(San Remo, Italy)- In 2016, the ALCATEL J/70 Cup- emblematic of the Open Italian J/70 National Championship- enjoyed strong participation from across Europe, with 67 teams sailing in the four event series from 11 nations (Italy, Brazil, Germany, Great Britain, Malta, Monaco, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, & Switzerland).  Building on their successful and very popular format, the ALCATEL Group is again sponsoring the event and they anticipate an even larger turnout this year since it also marks the first time the AUDI J/70 World Championship will be hosted in Italy (Porto Cervo, Sardinia).

The schedule of events starts in San Remo (adjacent to Monaco), and then moves to Lake Garda off to the northeastern part of Italy at the base of the spectacular Italian Alps, then south down to Scarlino.  As a result, the teams in the ALCATEL J/70 Cup can easily travel across on one of Vincenzo Onorato’s MOBY LINES (also an avid J/70 owner/skipper) to participate in the Worlds on Sardinia!  Here is the overall schedule for the ALCATEL J/70 Cup:
  • Apr 29- May 1    San Remo- YC San Remo
  • May 26-28    ALPEN CUP @ Malcesine- Fraglia Vela Malcesine
  • June 23-25    EURO CUP V @ Riva del Garda- Fraglia Vela Riva
  • Jul 28-30    Scarlino- Club Nautico Scarlino
For more ALCATEL J/70 Cup sailing information, please contact Giulia Albuzio at the J/70 Italian Class- ph- +41 798508500/  ph- +39 3474235280/ email- website-

J/111 sailing EdgartownEdgartown Race Week Announcement
(Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard, MA)- Race around Martha’s Vineyard once and you’ll likely be back again!  Edgartown Race Weekend starts Thursday, July 20th with two days of ‘Round-the-Buoys races in Edgartown’s Outer Harbor.  The signature 56 nautical mile ‘Round-the-Island Race starts Saturday, July 22nd.  Both events are included in the single entry fee together with the Mount Gay sponsored “Jump-Up Party” on Friday night.

Sailing to (and racing around) the Vineyard is a unique experience with enthusiastic reviews by participating yachtsmen.  The ‘Round-the-Island course passes five lighthouses, many beaches and the rolling pastures on the island of Martha’s Vineyard.

J/120 sailing EdgartownMany crews enjoy the combination of buoy and ocean racing in one event.  As one J-Boat sailor said, “We really liked the event, we got a little bit of everything … every wind angle and some areas with a lot of current and some areas with no current, so we always had a different strategy depending on where we were. We were able to do many sail changes that was great practice, along with sets and douses which is exactly what we need to work on. The wind shifts made us work quickly and we had to be spot on.  Since this was a long race for us, I really believe it was a great team bonding experience, which was awesome.  Edgartown Yacht Club welcomed us in with open arms, and we can't wait to do it next year!”

There was a robust J/Boat participation in the Edgartown 'Round-the-Island Race for 2016.  The event organizers expanded the awards for the ‘Round-the-Island Race to recognize the first through third-place finishers, on corrected time, amongst all J/Boats in all classes. Again, this year’s event will have special awards for participating J-Boats!

With a strong turnout of sixteen boats in the 2016 event, Doug Curtiss’ J/111 WICKED 2.0, placed first among all J/Boats, followed by Eliot Shanabrook of Watertown, MA on the J/109 HAFA ADAI and Stephen McManus of Annapolis, MD on the J/120 ‎SAYKADOO took third.

For more Edgartown Race Weekend sailing information, please contact Margaret Passafiume at email- or register at the website-

Ted Hood Regatta MarbleheadTed Hood Regatta Announcement
(Marblehead, MA)- The Storm Trysail Club’s Marblehead Station announced that the First Annual Ted Hood Regatta will take place in Marblehead on August 25th to 27th.  The host club for the Ted Hood will be the Boston Yacht Club, with help and cooperation from Corinthian YC and Eastern YC, and racing is open to PHRF, Cruising Class, and One Design Racing. Organizers are planning for over 100 boats participating in the event.  Big J/70 and J/105 classes are expected as well as a range of J’s sailing in the PHRF Class (J/109, J/111, J/122, etc).

Once known as the PHRF New England’s, and later the One Regatta, Storm Trysail has taken over the event with plans to inject new energy and excitement into this late summer classic.

J/111 sailing MarbleheadSince 1936, The Storm Trysail Club has been a “by invitation” club without a clubhouse.  It’s nearly 1,000 members include National and World Champions, Olympic Medalists, America’s Cup Winners, Hall of Fame Inductees, and Round The World Race Participants.  Mostly, the Club’s members are made up of sailors with a passion for offshore racing.  Storm Trysail runs Block Island Race Week, Key West Race Week, The Trans-Atlantic Race, and many other events, providing both a high level of expertise and skill at managing successful racing events.

Storm Trysail’s Marblehead Station Members are thrilled to have the support of the Hood family in naming this event for one of Marblehead’s favorite sons. Ted Hood, a legend in sailmaking, yacht design, and a pioneer in the marine industry began his career in Marblehead.  As a sailor, Ted won nearly every trophy from the SORC to The America's Cup.  Things you may not know about Ted:  Have you ever done a "dip-pole jibe"?  Have you ever used roller-furling? Have you ever hoisted a jib in a "head-foil"? Ted Hood was responsible for all of these things.   He revolutionized the sailmaking industry with new materials, designs, and weaving technology. Storm Trysail is honored to have Ted Hood’s name attached to this great event.  For more Ted Hood Regatta sailing information

J/Sailing News

The Sun Never Sets on J's Sailing Worldwide

The ides of March are nearly upon us.  That means the inexorable tides driving the sailing machinery in Europe are cranking up faster and faster.  Monaco’s winter series on the sunny Mediterranean are a constant reminder that spring is just around the corner.  After their famous PRIMO CUP, they just closed out their J/70 Monaco Winter Series this past weekend with their 5th event.  Most interestingly, the event marked several milestones, including something about Russians and hot women drivers from Moscow!

Over in Italy, the J/24 sailors are all training hard for the upcoming Europeans on Hungary’s Lake Balaton, featuring a number of World and European Champions on their waters off Rome, Sardinia and Genoa.

Switching over to the Caribbean, the first major regatta of the winter season just took place off Phillipsburg, St Maarten.  It was the notoriously fun and happy HEINEKEN St Maarten Regatta.  A number of fast J/teams were on hand to collect some silverware, like a J/122, J/111, J/109, J/105 and J/30!!

Similarly, celebrating the same Mardis Gras weekend of festivities was the New Orleans YC in New Orleans, LA on America’s Gulf Coast.  The NOYC played host to the seriously famous Mardis Gras Regatta.  It was also the occasion for the J/27 Midwinters on Lake Ponchartrain.

Finally, out West, it was the first big one-design event of the season on San Francisco Bay.  What took place was the StFYC Spring One-Design Regatta, it just so happened to include a flock of two-dozen-plus J/105s!

Read on! The J/Community and Cruising section below has many entertaining stories and news about J/Sailors as well as cruising blogs about those who continue to enjoy the Caribbean and the South Pacific, staying warm while others are trying to stay warm up north.  Check them out!  More importantly, if you have more J/Regatta News, please email it or  upload onto our J/Boats Facebook page  Below are the summaries.

Regatta & Show Schedules:

Mar 9-11- Bacardi Miami Sailing Week- Coconut Grove, FL
Mar 17-19- San Diego NOOD Regatta- San Diego, CA
Mar 24-26- St Thomas International Regatta- St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
Mar 27-Apr 2- BVI Spring Regatta- Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Apr 10-15- Les Voiles de Saint Barth- Gustavia, St Barthelemey
April 20-23- Charleston Race Week- Charleston, SC
Apr 30- May 1- Antigua Sailing Week- English Harbour, Antigua
May 5-7- Annapolis NOOD Regatta- Annapolis, MD

For additional J/Regatta and Event dates in your region, please refer to the on-line J/Sailing Calendar.

J/70 Russia Kovalenko team wins Monaco seriesRussians Win Monaco J/70 Winter Series!
YC Monaco's Fassitelli Wins Act V Finale
(Monte Carlo, Monaco)- The curtain has fallen on the 2016/ 2017 Monaco Sportsboat Winter Series organized from October to March by the Yacht Club de Monaco in collaboration with clothing supplier SLAM. The Monegasque race area lit up for the final Act which attracted 250 sailors on 70 boats.  Various shades of blue were to be observed throughout the event as sun, spray and a steady westerly provided favorable conditions for a superb ending.

J/70s sailing off MonacoWith a total of 21 races held from October for more than 250 sailors from 14 nations in the J/70 class, the Monaco Sportsboat Winter Series has established itself as a major event for many teams from eastern and northern Europe who establish their training base in the Principality to prepare for the upcoming season.

With a total of 69 international teams competing this winter, the Principality has become a mecca for the J/70 class. A highly-motivated Monaco J/70 Class Association, presided over by ‎Michel Boussard, saw 17 Monegasque teams sailing in the event; proving they are a great asset in this fast-expanding fleet.

J/70 Monaco Act V winnersBarely a year since he first sailed a J/70, YC Monaco’s Ludovico Fassitelli, sailing JUNDA- BANCA DEL SEMPIONE, proved he has the golden touch. Having started in 4th at the end of the first day, he went home with the Act 5 trophy in his pocket after three days and five races, two of which he won. The Monegasques managed to upset the order, overtaking Englishman Charles Thompson’s BRUTUS who was 2nd. Despite some tightly-fought duels on the downwind legs and round the marks, the Swiss crew on JURMO, skippered by Stefan Seger, had to be content with 3rd position, just one point in arrears of the silver!  Taking 4th place for the weekend finale was Mario Garcia Soerensen’s MANDA-CHUVA from Brazil and in 5th was Nelson Mettraux’s APROTOTEC CER 1 from Switzerland.

The ladies were not to be outdone, with Russian woman sailor Valeriya Kovalenko skippering ARTUTUBE.RU to the top of the overall ranking for the season- a significant milestone for women in the J/70 class (alongside Claudia Rossi’s win of the 2016 J/70 Europeans)!  She finished ahead of the J/70 Russia- crew interviewBrazilians on MANDA CHUVA, skippered by Mario Garcia Soerensen.  And, taking the bronze for the series was Ludovico Fassitelli’s JUNDA.  Rounding out the top five for the series were Nicolas Groux’s Swiss crew on APROTEC-CER3 in 4th place and in 5th position was Stefano Roberti’s YC Monaco crew on PICCININA.

Valeriya’s ARTTUBE.RU Sailing team is comprised of Igor Lisovenko, Alexander Bozhko, and Sergey Avdonin.  They will also be competing in the Russian Sailing Federation’s National Sailing League in J/70s from April 8th to October 17th.  Those events take place on the Black Sea resort of Sochi, on the river off St Petersburg, and northwest of Moscow at the Konakovo River Sailing Club.

J/70 sailing videoHere are nicely produced sailing videos of YC Monaco’s J/70 Winter Series:

For more YC Monaco J/70 Winter series sailing information.

J/122 El Ocaso sailing Heineken St Maarten regattaJ/Teams Dominate Heineken St Maarten!  
J/122, J/109, J/105, J/39, J/30, J/88 Collect Silver Everywhere!
(Phillipsburg, St Maarten)- The Sint Maarten Yacht Club was a beehive of activity as competitors arrived for the 37th St. Maarten Heineken Regatta. The racing action kicked off on March 2nd with the Gill Commodore’s Cup, a one-day windward leeward racing event, allowing sailors to practice and perfect their racing without influencing the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, which runs March 3-5.

The 2017 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta once again featured the largest collection of yachts racing at a Caribbean regatta since the 2016 edition. J/crews sailed in the various CSA Racing classes. The weather forecast for the start of the regatta was described as “fresh to frightening.”  With strong easterly trade winds all weekend long, the powerful and easy-to-manage J/Boats certainly reveled in the conditions.

J/88 sailing Heineken St MaartenGILL COMMODORE’s CUP
Here is how it was all initially setup for the GILL COMMODORE’s CUP Regatta.  The CSA 3 contained seven well-matched yachts, with many teams highly experienced at the regatta. Nevertheless, the standout team to match was the 2016 Most Worthy Performer, the American J/122 EL OCASO.

In CSA 4 Class, Sir Robbie Ferron’s J/39 MICRON 99 OSSENFEFFER from St. Maarten was looking forward to a battle with childhood friends from the island.

Then, CSA 5 Class, it looked to be a fantastic battle with well sailed boats right through the class. From St. Barths were two equally-matched J/109s- Dave Cullen’s POCKET ROCKET and Sophie Olivaud’s all-girls team on ALBACOR IV.  And, Peter Lewis’ J/105 WHISTLER from Barbados would undoubtedly cause the J/109s much consternation.

As it turns out, it was far more competitive than anyone had bargained for! Pewter skies and a viscous rain squall preceded the start of racing; 20 knots of solid trade winds, with bullets of 25-30 kts of pressure firing up the wind speed!  It was an exciting day of racing for a record fleet of 89 yachts. The feisty weather soon improved, to provide glorious sunshine and a brisk 15-20 knots later in the day.

David Pritchard, President of Gill North America, was racing on Robbie Ferron’s J/39 MICRON 99 OSSENFEFFER in CSA 4, placing second in both races to take the silver.

J/105 sailing Heineken St MaartenAfter racing Pritchard, was enjoying a cold Heineken in the Sint Maarten Yacht Club. “I really enjoy coming here, I’m especially enjoying the sailing and having been involved for so many years, I have made so many good friends here,” commented David. “I love working with Heineken, John Leone and his team are always pushing to do better. You just have to take a look at the regatta village and the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ (the regatta stage on Kim Sha Beach), and you realize the energy and effort that goes into this regatta. From a business perspective, the sailors here are our customers, this is where they hang out, and they are associating Gill with having a good time. We are also spot-lighting our new Gill Race Series range, and at the awards tonight winners will get these brand new high performance Gill products.”

J/122 Liquid sailing St MaartenCSA 3 proved highly competitive with three teams claiming race wins. Pamala Baldwin’s Antigua J/122 LIQUID was 53 seconds ahead in Race 2, with Bob Hillier’s American J/122 EL OCASO tying for second place with Team Boston. In the last race of the day, EL OCASO corrected out to claim the bullet by 17 seconds.  LIQUID won the class by just half a point from Team Boston, with EL OCASO third.

CSA 5 produced another cracking battle between two equally matched J/105s- Peter Lewis’ WHISTLER and Jordan Mindich’s SOLSTICE crew from America. Tied on points after three races, WHISTLER won the last race to snatch the class win on countback. Rob Butler’s Canadian J/88 TOUCH2PLAY RACING took third.

After a spectacular day on the water at the Gill Commodore’s Cup, the Prize Giving was held at the Princess Pavilion, Port de Plaisance. With over a thousand competitors taking part in the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, and many more joining in the fun at the “Green Sensation Party,” the venue was soon jumping to the rhythm of four of the island’s top DJs!!

J/111 Spike sailing Heineken St MaartenHEINEKEN REGATTA
On the first day of the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, 164 yachts experienced strong trade winds and four metre seas on the windward side of the island. The Round St. Maarten Race produced a new record, a full on foam up, and sailors grinning like Cheshire cats at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club.

With an enormous fleet of yachts taking part in the Round St. Maarten Race, and the breeze pumping up to over 20 knots, safety was of paramount concern. Race Director, Paul Miller meticulously analyzed the various speeds of the classes to avoid over-crowding on the course at crucial areas. The math worked out with the fleet evenly spread out around the race course, but less than an hour separated the first and last finishers.  However, mistakes were made by some that resulted in collisions and have a material outcome for CSA 5 class.

In CSA 3 Class, Mitch Padnos (a J/122 owner in Macatawa Bay, MI) chartered the J/122 EL OCASO and crossed the line just five seconds ahead to win the class on corrected time. Sam Talbot’s J/111 SPIKE was second after time correction. The 15-strong class of evenly matched race boats produced the most competitive start of the Round St. Maarten Race. In CSA 4 class, Ferron’s J/39 MICRON 99 was third.

J/105 Solstice crash at Heineken St Maarten regattaThe biggest drama of the day took place in CSA 5 class. After leading their fleet by a significant margin, and easily winning on time, Jordan Mindich’s J/105 SOLSTICE got t-boned by a massive 40 catamaran that was on port tack.  No amount of maneuvering by SOLSTICE could get them away from the fast approaching catamaran.  As a result, they had to drop out of the race to execute some quick repairs; thankfully, no one was hurt.  In the meantime, sistership J/105 WHISTLER, skippered by Peter Lewis followed up on their narrow win in the Gill Commodore’s Cup with another close encounter in Round St. Maarten Race with one of St. Barth’s most famous sailing families.  WHISTLER took the win on corrected time by just 29 seconds.  Then, in CSA 6 Class, Tanner & Shari Jones’ J/30 Caribbean Alliance Insurance, completed an all-Antiguan podium by taking third.

J/105 sailing off St Maarten in Heineken regattaDay 2
On the second day, the competitors enjoyed truly gorgeous conditions. Bright sunshine and 15-20 knots of trade winds with a relatively flat sea state. The CSA Classes raced outside Marigot Bay with the wind funneling down the mountainous shoreline, a perfect windward leeward course was set for some epic racing in turquoise blue water. The remainder of the fleet enjoyed a superb playground, flat water, and a tactical race course, taking in the lifts and accelerating zones of the bays along the south coast.

The battles continued in CSA 3 class.  The J/22 EL OCASO continued their winning ways in a highly competitive class posting two bullets. However, the team faltered on the last race of the day, scoring a fourth. EL OCASO still led the class, but Talbot’s J/111 SPIKE was just a point adrift in second.

Mitch Padnos, who owns a J/122 in Michigan, decided to charter EL OCASO and bring his race crew to the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta for the second time. “EL OCASO is virtually a sister ship to my boat in Michigan, so it was a no brainer as it has been so easy to organize, bringing the crew here to come and enjoy the regatta, especially as it is no more than 32 deg back home right now. The regatta is very user-friendly, between the marinas and the race committee. We are getting ready to sail back home on Lake Michigan, so having a blast here is great preparation for that, we are ready to go,” commented Padnos.

J/88 sailing fast at St MaartenMeanwhile, in CSA 4 Class, Sir Robbie Ferron’s J/39 MICRON 99 put in a great shift today, scoring a 1-1-3, elevating the team to the top of the class.

The titanic battle of the 35-footers in CSA 5 class continued. The J/105 WHISTLER scored a 1-2-6 to hold a slender lead over Dave Cullen’s J/109 POCKET ROCKET. Butler’s J/88 TOUCH2PLAY RACING was in third just a point ahead of Mindich’s J/105 SOLSTICE.  Then, in CSA 6 class, two bullets and a second lifted Tanner and Shari Jones’ J/30 Caribbean Alliance Insurance, into second.

The stage at Kim Sha Beach sprouted into life during the evening with top acts entertaining thousands of revelers at one of the biggest Saturday nights in the island’s calendar. One of the Caribbean’s best-known bands, Asher Otto & Itchy Feet performed and, as the main attraction, Collie Buddz from Bermuda hit the stage.  An awesome evening of reggae jazz-fusion!

J/105 sails Heineken St Maarten regattaDay 3
For the last day of racing, Mother Nature smiled on the race course with exhilarating conditions to test the competitors. One race was completed by all classes.  For CSA 3 class, that meant the J/122 EL OCASO secured their position as the winningest boat ever in class, winning the last race by just 43 seconds to clinch the class win for the regatta. Talbot’s J/111 SPIKE, was second in the race and for the regatta.  In CSA 4 class, Ferron’s J/39 MICRON 99 lost the regatta on a tie-breaker and had to settle for the silver!

“Till death do us part,” might have been the motto for CSA 5 class. And, yet another collision! So close was the racing in this class that no one was sure who won until they all hit the dock and had enjoyed a few “greenies” and resolved a few “course navigation protests” that saw the two J/105s tossed out of the final race!  In the end, Cullen’s J/109 POCKET ROCKET was 6th on the day, but that was enough to secure the class win with Lewis’ J/105 WHISTLER disqualified. Butler’s J/88 TOUCH2PLAY won the race to move up to second overall with WHISTLER in third for the regatta.  The truly “hard luck trophy” must go out to Mindich’s crew on the J/105 SOLSTICE; having been hit in race 1 while winning the race, then getting tossed in the last race while getting 2nd on corrected (note- the issue was a NOR/SI’s issue regards navigational aids).

The Irish ex-pat Dave Cullen is a real fighter, and despite a damaged boat, the team finished the last race, to win the class, against all the odds.  “I have never won a regatta with such terrible results, a 6th and 8th, and we still won! We got holed by a boat in another class in the last race. We decided the best thing to do was to race on!,” commented Cullen.

Meanwhile, no one was surprised to see that, yet again, Tanner & Shari Jones J/30 Caribbean Alliance Insurance win the CSA 6 class by a single point!!  Time for celebration!

On Sunday, March 5th, over 3,000 people gathered on Kim Sha beach for the Prize Giving and a dance-the-night-away party with the chart topping British reggae band- UB40- and R&B diva- Mya- performing live, closing the regatta for another year!  Sailing photo credits- Tim Wright/  For more Heineken St Maarten Regatta information

J/27 sailing Mardi Gras RegattaMardis Gras Race Week Blowout!
Battle For J/27 Midwinters Supremacy!
(New Orleans, LA)- Over the March 2nd to 5th weekend, the “northernmost Caribbean yacht club in the world”- New Orleans Yacht Club- hosted the Mardis Gras Race Week, presented by Gulf Coast Bank & Trust Company.  The NOYC RC/PRO crew managed to run NINE races for the J/27 Midwinter Championship as well as give the PHRF A & B Classes some awesome racing on Lake Ponchartrain, with five races counted.

The story of the day for the J/27 Midwinters was the virtual match race that took place all weekend between the top two teams.  In the end, after posting five 1sts and three 2nds, Patrick Ryan’s DEMITASSE from Southern YC walked off with class honors, being named the 2017 J/27 Midwinter Galactic Champion of the Milky Way!  Hoping to prevent a “light years out” scenario was Merlin Wilson’s ALEGRE also from SYC.  However, after leading the regatta with an astounding 2-1-1-1 after four races, they somehow, miraculously, lost their edge and could not hold back a five straight bullet comeback by their lovingly erstwhile buddies on DEMITASSE. Behind the regatta leaders, it must have been fun to watch from the bleacher seats for Canada’s Maddy Beese from Oakville Yacht Squadron in Ontario.  Maddy ultimately took the bronze.

Meanwhile, it was the PHRF handicap world for offshore keelboats saw a LOT of drama taking place on the great lake north of New Orleans’ infamous Bourbon Street.  Winning class was Burton Benrud’s J/111 ZYDECO from Southern YC with a 3-2-1-1-2 record for 6 pts. They had their hands full taking on well-sailed crews on a Swan 42, B32, three Melges 32’s and Salona 380.  For more Mardis Gras Regatta sailing information

J/105 Arbitrage crewARBITRAGE Trumps Spring One-Design Regatta!
(San Francisco, CA)- The twenty J/105 teams in the season opening St. Francis YC Spring One Design Series were greeted with rain, hail, winds in high teens to low 20’s with gusts to 35 kts; and an erratic flood tide that was overrun by streaks of ebb from recent storm-induced water run-off from the NorCal rivers and reservoirs. It’s California! What do you expect when no one pays for taking care of dams, spillways and reservoirs and politicians line their pockets instead!?

On Saturday, the southerly wind caused the course to run across the tides, while on Sunday the westerly breezes ran parallel to the tides.  This was an arbitrary phenomenon that was induced by none other than the fact that “charmed quarks” and “pink neutrinos” were invading the Earth from the sun’s most recent solar flares; these are known to impose significant bias to the Earth’s magnetic fields over the west coast of America.  Some have attributed this phenomenon to either “Vlad” from Russia or the “Big T” sitting in the White House.  Time will tell.

Going into the 5th and last race, it was a three-way tie between Brent Vaughn’s JABBERWOCKY, Philip Laby’s GODOT (winner of the 2016 J/105 San Francisco Fleet Championship) and past national fleet captain Bruce Stone’s ARBITRAGE.  Just a few points behind (with a mathematical chance of winning) and challenging for the podium was Jeff Littfin’s MOJO and Ryan Simmon’s BLACKHAWK.

With the flood-tide on the port pin end at the shore and the ebb-tide offshore at the starboard end, the Race Committee skewed the starting line to favor the pin at the port end of the line.  As a result, some teams believed that skew could provide tactical benefits.  Here is how that scenario played out for the fleet.

ARBITRAGE won the RC committee boat end (starboard), flopped onto port and ran away from the pack, with JABBERWOCKY slightly back on its windward hip, both footing out toward the ebb on port tack.  GODOT dug out of a third row start and reached off to clear its air.  ARBITRAGE faced the dilemma as to whom to cover. ARBITRAGE’s mainsheet/ tactician- Nicole Breault (and Goddess that walks on water)- kept ARBITRAGE high to pinch off JABBERWOCKY, and hedge against the southerly gusts (lifting on port tack) that favored MOJO and BLACKHAWK on the inside.  This had the effect of letting GODOT get to the ebb first, shooting forward from a ten length deficit to a 5 length lead at the windward mark.  ARBITRAGE caught up downwind, and could have pinned GODOT outside, but let them gybe to round the unfavored port gate (it was clear the solar flare’s neutrinos were having an effect on the fleet). In going there, GODOT sought to replicate its strategy of getting to the ebb first, but ARBITRAGE chose the better-upwind starboard gate, coming out of the rounding way ahead and romping home with a huge lead (charmed quarks be damned)!  GODOT finished second, with MOJO third in the race.

As a result, ARBITRAGE won the two-day regatta with a 5-1-3-4-1-record for 14 pts, just 1 pt ahead of Laby’s GODOT with a 3-2-6-2-2- for 15 pts.  Taking third was Litfin’s MOJO with a 6-3-2-5-3 tally for 19 pts.  Rounding out the top five was yet another tie-breaker scenario; Brent Vaughn’s JABBERWOCKY took 4th place with a roller-coaster scoreline of 2-9-1-1-7 for 20 pts over Ryan Simmons’ BLACKHAWK tally of 1-4-4-6-5 for 20 pts.

In a virtual interview later over the coconut telegraph, Ms Breault commented on ARBITRAGE’s win, “it was clear the trumponic particles from Mars was not the biggest problem.  Instead, it was the fact a massive iceberg hatched over the weekend off the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica and the imbalance that imposed on the massive ozone hole negatively impacted our assumptions on which way to go with the current in San Francisco Bay.  Thank goodness!  The crazy pelicans here on the Bay all sensed the massive distortion in the Earth’s magnetic field and bailed left, so we followed them!”  Genius, that Nicole!  Good news and great insider knowledge for SF Bay tacticians like Russ Silvestri, John Kostecki, Paul Cayard, Paul Heineken and others!  Follow the blonde pelicans!  For more StFYC Spring One-Design sailing information

J/24 sailing off Sardinia, ItalyItaly J/24 Winter Series Update
(Rome, Italy)- As they have all winter, the Italian J/24 fleet continue to enjoy fleet racing in a variety of Italy’s most famous seaports.  The most recent fleet to conclude their winter series were the Sardinians.

VIGNE SURRAU Wins Sardinia Series!
Eleven teams participated in the beautiful waters off the port of Puntaldia, in the municipality of San Teodoro for the winter series finale.  After twelve exciting races, the team on VIGNE SURRAU from Circolo Nautico Arzachena ended up winning the winter series in Sardinia.  Also on the podium in second and third, respectively, were ITA 460 BOTTA DRITTA owned & skippered by Mariolino Fraietta and ITA 431 LNI CARLOFORTE sailed by David Gorgerino.

"The wind remained fairly constant, with an intensity of 10-12 knots with a few gusts,” said Pietro Sanna. “On both days, there was a greater wind pressure on the left side of the playing field, so much so that even with windshifts going right, the left still paid off! The victory of VIGNE SURRAU was far from obvious given the competition, but they managed to prevail in the end.”  For more Italian J/24 winter series sailing information

What friends, alumni and crew of J/Boats are doing worldwide
Havana, Cuba 
* Sailing a J/88 to Havana, Cuba!?  Yes, that is exactly what David Malkin from North Point Yacht Sales in Annapolis did with his team on MI2.  Here is an account of their experience on their blast across the Gulf Stream.

J/88 sailing into Cuban history“Sailing into Cuban history.” That’s how T2P.TV’s Ashley Love titled the documentary of her adventure sailing on my J88 M:I-2 to Cuba last February.  Looking back, as we planned for, and then participated in, the first officially sanctioned race to Cuba in over 57 years; it really became apparent we were blazing a new trail. It was more than just another sailboat race.

It was September 2015 when I became aware of the planned Conch Republic Cup race for February of 2016.  A little research revealed what I felt was the perfect combination of adventure and fun. The 10-day schedule called for three 90-mile distance races and two optional in-shore races with lots of parties and sightseeing in between.  Logistics made easy with a common start and finish in Key West with stops in Veradaro and Havana, a perfect triangle of happiness. I signed up before the week was out, relying on the universe to help with the details.  Let’s just say it came through in spades.

In the run-up to the 2016 CRC and since, you can’t pick up a sailing magazine without a mention of Cuba, and for good reason.  That 90 mile sail to a foreign country is a very manageable adventure even for those that don’t have a major offshore passage on their bucket list or a large yacht (J/88 = 29’).  This is clearly highlighted by the 75 boat entry list for the 2017 St. Pete to Havana race.  The majority of entrants are in the cruiser/racer category with many boats under 40’.

J/88 cuban crew in havanaUpon arriving in Cuba the first thing you realize is that despite the proximity, I am definitely in a different country.  In our case, we were greeted by the friendly dock staff of the beautiful Melia Marina in Veradaro, home to several nice all-inclusive resorts that our Canadian neighbors have been enjoying for years.  The marina staff and most of the people we met along the way that were associated with tourism spoke English and were happy to see Americans. The Cubans are well versed on US culture as something like 40% have relatives in the US.  Think Spanish speaking Ireland. Their knowledge of US pop culture was made apparently clear when they immediately picked up on the Mission Impossible 2 logo and I was quickly dubbed Tom Cruz.

Havana, Cuba chevy taxiCuba is still very much a Communist country. This is not so evident in the heart of Old Havana, our second regatta destination.  Their economic reforms fueled by tourism are happening at a rapid pace.  The Cubans are working very hard to restore Old Havana back to her former glory as capital of the Caribbean.  They are even renovating a pre-revolution structure intended as their capital building that is a scaled down replica of the US Capital building. Historic sights, museums, restaurants, bars and hotels are all benefiting. Traveling outside Old Havana the effects of 57 years of the revolution become evident. The people are warm and friendly, but the infrastructure is certainly suffering.

Our last interaction on Cuban soil was with the customs staff at the Marina Hemingway. At our final check out before leaving for home we bonded over Katie Perry with the customs team. It was a fitting end to the Cuba slice of our adventure. It highlighted how close and yet how far apart we are.

J/88 havana cuba crewWhether by sea or air, a trip to Cuba should be on all our bucket lists.  For some a visit in the near future may seem a little like roughing it, but it’s worth it.  You’ll get a firsthand understanding of what 50 years of communism looks like.  More importantly, you’ll experience a culture with a fantastic history poised for their next big revolution.

If a race to Cuba sounds good, you’re not alone.  Adventure racing combined with fun destinations is the formula that is fueling the fastest growing segment of the sailboat racing market.

Lowell North- founder of North Sails* Lowell North is celebrating 60 years of making sails- NORTH SAILS!!  Lowell has sailed a variety of boats over time, but he notably was one of the first adopters of sailing asymmetric boats.  Lowell was the proud owner of one of the first boats off the J/105 production line in 1991- J/105 #3!  Here is an overview of his story, courtesy of NORTH SAILS.

“If I started a sailmaking company, would you buy a sail from me?”

That’s what Lowell North asked his friend John Shoemaker, one afternoon in 1957, while seated at the bar of San Diego Yacht Club. John replied, “Yes, I would,” which surprised Lowell. Sure, they were friends, but neither man could predict that Lowell’s new company would eventually grow into the largest sailmaking business in the world. Or that along the way, Lowell would become a world champion sailor and two-time Olympic medalist.

During a recent interview at his house in Point Loma, Lowell told us John’s answer “gave me the encouragement to start North Sails.” He admitted that before starting the company, he hadn’t built many sails. He said it took him years to figure out how to make a fast shape, but Lowell quickly became known for his unique approach in an industry where he had little experience. And 60 years later, a scientific approach to material and product testing, as well as analytics-based sail design and performance development, continues to be the backbone of North Sails.

“The realization that I didn’t know anything about sail shape was really a big help,” Lowell explained. “I was then able to test a great variety of shapes, some of which tested faster. This objectivity helped us to make a lot of progress in sail shape.”

After that drink with John Shoemaker, Lowell dove in. It all started in a rented 20 x 80 foot space at the B Street Pier in downtown San Diego. He quit his job as an aerospace engineer at Narmco, and went to work on the floor building Snipe and Star sails. The early days were shaped by a tight group building a modest business. Lowell’s first wife Kay did the bookkeeping. Their first hire was a seamstress, Daisy. Next was Paul Merrill, who had worked for Herb Sinnhoffer sailmakers; he bridged the delicate gap between employee and teacher. Other early staff included friends like Earl Elms and Tom Nute, and later Pete Bennett from Murphy and Nye in Chicago.

“Pete brought a lot of really good production techniques with him, and established ways of cutting and sewing sails more accurately and efficiently,” Lowell said. “We started making Snipe sails, which was the first class we were really successful in. Meanwhile, Paul’s plan was to retire a few years from then and sail around the world.”

“Did he do it?” we asked.

“I haven’t seen Paul Merrill in years. I suspect he did.”

Around 1962, Lowell and production manager John Rumsey began empirically testing sailcloth stretch and fatigue. They read the numbers and confirmed the market standard was far too low. They could do better.

“The sails on the market weren’t good enough. I started re-cutting my Star sails from the prominent West Coast sailmaker at the time [Kenny Watts].”

“We began testing cloth samples by attaching them to the antenna of my car. We called it flutter testing, it seemed to match the real life degradation of the material and gave us a pretty good inkling of how the sail cloth would degrade in actual use. We later simulated the car antenna flutter testing by building an in-house machine which spun the attached samples on a rotating wheel or arm.”

This was the beginning of a long history in material development. The “30/30 benchmark” became known among cloth specialists: 30 minutes at 30 miles per hour. Looking past woven polyester, Lowell and textile converter Noah Lamport created the first laminated sailcloth, used on the 12 Meter Enterprise in 1977. In 1980, launching NorLamTM (a polyester/Mylar laminated sailcloth) complemented the company’s introduction of radial panel sail layouts.

Lowell’s legacy continued with patented three-dimensional membranes (1992), followed by the first warp-oriented polyester sailcloth, North Sails Radian™ (2008). North Sails 3Di composite membranes went to market in 2011, and they are continually improved by materials research out of the Minden loft. The capacity of North Sails 3Di technology continues to expand as designers and product engineers learn to adapt the product to new sailing markets. Ask North Sails designers today, and they’ll tell you it’s all about the strength and shape of the membrane – which goes right back to the same qualities Lowell was testing for.

On the water, Lowell is known as one of those guys who just “got it.” Renowned for his results in the Star Class, he medaled in 12 World Championships over 25 years and won gold at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. He also won a bronze medal in the Dragon at the 1964 Tokyo Games. It was during this time that North Sails was first getting off the ground, and Lowell met many people who would become key players in its expansion.

“Peter [Barrett] and I met in Japan at the 1964 Olympics. I think Eckart Wagner was there too. Charlie Rogers and Dick Deaver crewed for me in Japan. They were all instrumental in the early success of North Sails.”

Peter Barrett founded the second North Sails loft (Seal Beach, CA) before moving home to Pewaukee, WI to start North Sails Midwest, the first loft outside California. Eckart Wagner broke ground in Germany in 1966, followed by Andre Nellis with North Sails Belgium. Later, North Sails Italia came online with the arrival of Robin Morgan.

“At some point I went to a school for executives. They taught me if you put together a group of men that were fairly hungry for something, and you worked to provide them with what they wanted, they would help create a successful organization. The term Tiger seem to fit the personality of our loft managers at the time; they were hungry.”

At this point in the interview, Lowell’s wife Bea chimed in. “We were in Portofino, in a little medieval castle in the old port, to accept a “Life of Sailing” award for Lowell. The Italian TV guy asked me, “Do you know who you’re with? Do you really know who you’re with?” and I said, “Well, who am I with?” He said, “The man that revolutionized the world of sailing.”

Lowell replied, “I think I brought together a great group of guys whose ideas and thoughts made for a very innovative company, and a profitable organization.”

For 27 years, Lowell led North Sails to new heights by being a true pioneer. He crafted ways to test the strength of raw materials, introduced computer-driven cloth-cutting machines, and performed the first computerized structural analysis of upwind sails. Along the way, he built a trusted team from the ground up and found personal success with the products he offered. By devising his own approach, he established a new industry standard and left his company with an ideology that still survives today.

As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of North Sails, Lowell reflected on how the sport has changed by weighing in on a much-debated topic between traditional and modern sailors.

“Sailing has changed very little, in that wind and water are the same. Racing and winning still rely more on the skill of the skipper then on the equipment. 60 years from now? Not much difference: bigger, faster and more aerodynamic boats, bigger sails and probably more foils.”  In other words, the driver and the crew still matter 100% of the time!

We asked, “What makes a master sailmaker?” and “What is the greatest strength of North Sails?”

Lowell had the same answer to both questions: “The ability to build fast sails.”

We asked his favorite place to sail and he replied truthfully, “In the ocean, off Point Loma in San Diego.”

“The worst place?” we asked.  “I stay away from places like that.”

Kate Wilson RI sailor of the year* Kate Wilson: Making Sailing Better!  In the March 2017 of WindCheck magazine, Kate Wilson (North Kingstown, RI) gets some deserved love that we are pleased to share.  At the 24th Annual Providence Boat Show, the Rhode Island Marine Trades Association (RIMTA) recognized Kate as the “Rhode Island Boater of the Year.”

Named after the Ocean State’s 66th Governor, RIMTA’s “John Chafee Boater of the Year” award, a beautiful half hull with a plaque engraved with such names as Ted Hood, Halsey Herreshoff, Ken Read and Rome Kirby, acknowledges an individual who has contributed to the success of the recreational boating industry in Rhode Island or championed the cause of bringing recreational boating to the public.

Kate was acknowledged for the important grassroots work she has done to grow the sport by finding new ways of inspiring young people to go sailing. “This award is really for all the volunteers who are getting kids on the water,” she said in her acceptance speech. “To create lifelong sailors, we need to start with our youth.”

Growing up sailing in junior programs around the world, Kate was enthusiastic about getting on the water as much as possible. “I had the opportunity to move quite a lot growing up since my dad was in the Navy,” she explains. “I had many coaches, and all of them taught me a little bit more about what it is to be a good leader and coach.”

As a former sailing coach at Rogers High School in her hometown of Newport, Kate saw that many students with requisite skills and experience to join the school’s sailing team were choosing other sports instead. After years of competing, these young sailors were simply burnt out.

“It was disheartening that a sailing mecca like Newport was not able to field a thriving high school sailing team,” says Kate, although she knew well the cause of their disinterest. Kate raced throughout high school and college and her teammates remain some of her closest friends, but took a break from racing after she graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges. “I just wasn’t having fun anymore,” she recalls. “The competition had zapped it from me.”

Kate Wilson RI sailorHowever, Kate certainly didn’t leave sailing. “I worked for ORACLE TEAM USA from 2012 to 2013,” she says. “I assisted them in Newport during the America’s Cup World Series, then moved to San Francisco for the 34th America’s Cup. I was part of the Marketing and Communications Team and I wore a lot of hats from support boat driver and graphic designer to clothing manager and social media content creator, but the main goal of my job was to support the whole the team and our sponsors.”

Offering advice for young job seekers, Kate says, “First, it never hurts to ask. Then, let your work ethic speak louder than your words. After I worked with OTUSA in Newport, I called them up and asked for a job in San Francisco and was told I could have it if I got there. I flew out, and showed up early and worked late every day. I was the newest member of the team with sometimes not the best duties, but I was part of a team. Knowing your place and working hard doesn’t go unrecognized.”

Kate is the Founder & Chief Designer of a marketing and web design company called “risingT”, and her clients include several marine companies and events. The company name derives from a phrase used by John F. Kennedy in a speech in 1963: “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

In accepting her Boater of the Year award, Kate urged those in the marine industry to recall why they’d first gotten into boating. “Remember, boating is all about the fun,” she enthused, “and I guarantee that if you focus on that you will be successful.”

Kate puts her own advice into practice with much success. As a member of Newport Yacht Club, she led the effort to revitalize the club’s junior sailing program. The program was renamed the Marine Adventure Camp, larger boats were added to the fleet, and she placed an emphasis on fun adventures with friends. In just two summers, a program that had dwindled to about a dozen kids grew to 120.

“We’d have the kids go out and set their anchor, or sail over to Jamestown to get ice cream…it was not about competition,” says Kate. “The simple recipe for success is allowing time to have just have fun. No matter the sailors’ skill level, just sailing across the bay or playing sponge tag is fun, yet they are still improving their skills.”

Enacting a similar plan with high school sailors, Kate created an event called Friday Night Lights in the spring of 2014. “All the local schools were invited to do some fun round-robin racing,” she says. “We’d have cookouts, and parents could come and watch, too. It was like a Friday night football game! For me, the most gratifying part of what I do is seeing the huge smiles on the kids’ faces at the end of the day or watching one my high school sailor’s confidence grow.”

Noting that her approach is not meant to denigrate competitive sailing, but to give kids who are not motivated by racing other ways to develop a passion for the sport, Kate says, “Sailing is more than a sport or hobby. It’s a way of life, a community, a family, and teaches us skills that go beyond the water into our professional and personal lives.”

J Cruisers continue their adventures around the world, below are a selection of most excellent "blogs" written by their prolific publishers.  Some terribly amusing anecdotes and pearls of wisdom are contained in their blogs. Read some! You'll love it.

* The J/40 HERON REACH sailed by Virginia and Jerry is participating in the Blue Planet Odyssey project and have recently joined them in the Marquesas Islands in the Eastern Pacific.  Learn more about their adventures and experiences here-
Giant whale breaching in front of J/160 SALACIA off  Australia's Whitsunday Islands* J/160 SALACIA has been sailing in Australia in the Whitsunday Islands.  Guess who decided to throw themselves across their bow as they cruised comfortably to their next destination?  A giant whale!  Look at this amazing photo!

J/42 cruiser- sailing across Atlantic Ocean* Jim & Heather Wilson just completed a circumnavigation of our "blue planet Earth" in June 2013 on their J/42 CEOL MOR.  Said Jim, "The odyssey of CEOL MOR is over, for now.  We completed our circumnavigation on our J/42 when we crossed our outbound track in Britannia Bay, Mustique. We were, however, still 2,000 nautical miles from home. So we continued on through the Windwards, the Leewards, and then through the British Virgin Islands. After a farewell 'Painkiller' at the Soggy Dollar, and a last meal at Foxy’s, we made the 1,275 nautical mile passage to the Chesapeake and completed our port-to-port circumnavigation when we arrived in Annapolis on June 28, 2013. We had been away 1,334 days, completed 259 days of ocean passages, and sailed 30,349 nautical miles (34,925 statute miles). Read more about their adventures in their  well-documented blog here:

* J/160 AVATAR headed for the Caribbean, again, for 2015/ 2016!  We LOVE these updates from our cruising J sailors that continue to criss-cross the Seven Seas. This one comes from Alan Fougere, sailing his beloved J/160 AVATAR.   Alan sent us an email update regards their various improvements and refit to the boat (see above).  They will again be based at Proper Yachts in St John, US Virgin Islands.

Bill & Judy Stellin- sailing J/42 Jaywalker* Bill & Judy Stellin were interviewed about cruising on their J/42 in the Wall St Journal called "Retiring on the Open Sea".  The Wall St Journal asked Bill to reply to dozens of questions that flooded into the WSJ's Editor desks. Here's the update:

Retiring on the Sea: Answering Readers' Questions
Advice about selecting a boat, ocean crossings, itineraries and safety

Wall St Journal interview- Stellin's Offshore cruising/ sailing retirementThe article in our WSJ Online December retirement report about eight years spent sailing the Mediterranean— "Retiring to the Open Sea"— prompted many questions and comments from readers.  We asked William Stellin, who wrote the story, to answer some of the most common queries.

WSJ- "What kind and make of boat did you use? Looking back, would you have picked a different boat?"

Bill- "In 1995-96, J/Boats of Newport, RI, came out with a new cruiser/racer model, the J/42. We bought hull No. 6 of this popular 42-foot sailboat and named it JAYWALKER. This was our fourth boat since beginning sailing in 1975.

Although long-distance cruising wasn't what we had in mind when we purchased JAYWALKER, it soon became apparent it had the ability to carry us easily and safely anywhere we wanted to go. Because the boat is light, it sails well in light winds, which means very little motoring is necessary.

People often ask (and argue) about what boat is best for cruising. Any boat that is strong, safe, fast, comfortable and easily handled by two people should fit the bill. One thing for sure, fast is fun—and important when trying to avoid bad weather."


J/42 sailing off France* The J/42 JARANA continues their epic voyage around the Pacific. Continue to read about Bill and Kathy Cuffel's big adventure cruising the South Pacific headed for New Zealand and points further around the Blue Planet Earth.  Here is their latest update (December 2016) from Bill & Kathy:

“We completed a three year tour of the south pacific and sailed from Hobart Tasmania back to Seattle in the fall of 2012.  After two seasons of local cruising, we decided to truck the boat to Rochester NY.  In the summer of 2015, we sailed out the Saint Lawrence seaway and down the east coast of Nova Scotia and the US, with a few months in the Bahamas that winter.  This past summer, we crossed the Atlantic with stops in Bermuda and the Azores, making landfall in Falmouth, UK.  We have worked down the coast of France, Spain and Portugal and are now in Lagos Portugal.  We plan on passing through the Straits of Gibraltar and spending a couple seasons in the Med.”

Their blog is here:

* John and Mary Driver are sailing their J/130 SHAZAM for extended cruising in the Atlantic basin. At this time, John and Mary finished their double-handed crossing of the Atlantic, landing in Portugal on their J/130 Shazam after completion of their ARC Rally. Read the latest news at

J/130 sailing ARC Rally arrives Portugal- leave a message on the sea wall!* Several J/160 owners are island hopping across the world's oceans, fulfilling life long dreams to cruise the Pacific islands, the Caribbean islands, the Indian Ocean and all points in between.  Anyone for Cape Horn and penguins??  Read more about their adventures and escapades (like our J/109 GAIA, J/42s PAX and JAYWALKER and J/130 SHAZAM friends above).

-  Bill and Susan Grun on the J/160 AVANTE are also sailing in the Pacific archipelago, read more about their great adventures on their blog (  Read about their latest adventures as they've gotten to New Zealand- "Avante Cruises the Pacific".

- Eric and Jenn on the J/160 MANDALAY also sailed the Pacific archipelago, read more on their blog at  Eric and Jenn are J/World alumni took MANDALAY up and down the West Coast (Mexico, CA), then to the South Pacific and New Zealand.  MANDALAY is back in San Francisco now, and in the J/World fleet--she is available for skippered charters, private instruction, and corporate/executive groups. Add to Flipboard Magazine.