In one of the most challenging editions of the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race in recent years, the 100 foot Maxi Ragamuffin 100 overcame several early stumbles for a thrilling finish in the veritable race. This year’s event saw a wide range of conditions, with high winds that led to nearly a third of the fleet retiring, and light winds at the finish that tested sailors patience. Ultimately, Ragamuffin 100 passed Rambler 88 in the final mile of the race to take second across the line in light winds that stood in stark contrast to the early part of the race. Ragamuffin 100 had Mark Fullerton of Doyle Sails Qingdao sailing aboard, and the boat was sailing with a full Doyle Stratis sail inventory. Most impressively, the massive Square Top main was first fitted on the original Ragamuffin 100 in 2013, stayed with the boat as a new hull was built for the rig and deck, and has now powered the yacht to 3 Sydney Hobart Races, 2 Transpacs and set the record in the 673 mild Hong Kong to Vietnam Race.
The first night of the race was the most intense, with a 40 knot front blowing through the fleet in the dark of night with intense rain completely reducing visibility. In the process of changing sails for the breeze, the massive furled A3 came partially unfurled forcing the yacht to bear away to try to get the 9,000 square foot sail back on deck while running downwind with a full main and J4 at 20 knots, into the swell. After getting the foredeck under control, the yacht began reefing, only to have the reefing line for the second reef break. In the chaos that ensued going for the 3rd reef, the yacht crash tacked, with the keel and water ballast now to leeward.
Skipper David Witt was thrown off the back of the boat in the process, only hanging on to the back but unable to help get the boat righted.
“It was 10 to 10.30 at night when the southerly hit. It was intense and relentless. We were trying to get the main down heading north when the boat literally capsized on top of us. Shave (Justin Shave) was on the bow and under water, the main, half down, knocked me off the back of the boat. I was hanging on to the back end and my sea boots were dragged off me.
“All I was thinking was, ‘can someone press the canting button (to centralise the keel), cos I can’t reach it from where I am’. We were under water for 15 minutes – the ballast was on the wrong side of the boat and so was the keel. Frightening doesn’t describe it,” Witt recalled.
While the team lost some miles in the process, they were able to continue while two of their main rivals, Wild Oats XI (R/P 100) and Perpetual Loyal (Juan K 100) were forced to retire with damage. There was more drama to come, as one of Ragamuffin 100’s daggerboards broke, forcing the team to “tack” the intact daggerboard, no easy feat with an 19 foot, 650 pound board. But in the end, the boat kept going and began reeling in the miles they had lost, and had the perseverance to pass Rambler 88 right at the finish. In contrast to the earlier parts of the race, the final day saw nearly any wind. “We never give up on this boat … we managed to get them in the end,” Witt said.
The race was also an achievement for owner and sailing legend Syd Fischer, who at 88 years old was was the oldest competitor to ever sail the Sydney-Hobart Race. “It was good to beat them – a good feeling. And I crossed another one off – my 47th,” said Fischer upon finishing.
Mark Fullerton, of Doyle Sails Qingdao, has worked with the Ragamuffin team for years and managed their sail program. The Ragamuffin sails were produced at Doyle Qingdao, which is owned and operated by sailors John Hearne and Fullerton. Looking back on the race, Fullerton was impressed by how well the original main is still holding up. “Everyone on board couldn’t believe how it survived the first night. I have no idea how and why the rig didn’t come down. It was about as messed up as you could get things. There were no broken battens or any damage to the main. As the race went on and we pulled the reefs out I was amazed to see there was no damage to the mainsail. No more than a few minor bits of chafe” Fullerton commented. The main is a light weight, Stratis Carbon/Technora main that was fitted prior the 2013 Transpac Race, and has now been with the same rig after a new underbody was produced for the boat in 2013 and mated with the original Deck and Rig. Having now powered the yacht through thousands of offshore miles racing, the sail is a testament to the performance, durability and light weight of the Stratis sails that are being utilized on many of the world’s highest performing yachts.
For complete results, please visit here
To learn more about Doyle Stratis Sails, please visit here
The 2015 Viper North Americans, held in Larchmont, NY, was not only the largest Viper regatta to date but also the largest sport boat competition in North America to date. With 53 boats, this four day event was extremely competitive with a good mixture of conditions – light the first day and puffy the next three. As it was blowing from the shore, it would sometimes be blowing twenty and other times six knots, catching a lot of competitors off guard. Doyle Sailmakers’ Brad Boston on team Jackpot came out on top for his fifth North American Championship win.
With his longtime crew of Curtis Florence and Luke Lawrence, Brad Boston won four races and placed second twice to accrue 45 points after twelve races. As a recent interview on Scuttlebutt mentioned, Brad’s program is all about Keeping it Affordable and Keeping it Fun, “on and off the water, from the time we wake up until we fall asleep.” Not only is the class itself designed to be affordable, Doyle Boston makes sure that they offer value in the sails they provide to the class – delivering both performance and durability.
Doyle has been very involved in the class for many years and therefore keep the designs and materials up to date. The consistency of the results that Doyle Sails have achieved are the result of ongoing sail development and incremental improvements as feedback from customers is received. For the North Americans this year, Brad used the latest set of Flex 16 upwind sails and a Dynakote spinnaker (a slippery nylon fabric which is great for coming in and out of the sock quickly).
The team at Doyle Boston Sailmakers not only get out there and win competitions, but make sure to share their knowledge with whoever is willing to listen. Brad, Tac Boston, and Chris Jay offered a week long tuning before the event, available to everyone. Their consistant involvement not only benefits other competitors but ensures that the class continues to grow and remains competitive.
More information about Doyle’s Viper sails can be found here.
Final results can be found here here
Since the ’14 Newport Worlds, where we finished a respectable 9th overall, we set out to improve on that performance and hit the circuit pretty hard over the winter. Starting in the Chesapeake, followed by Tampa, Key West, St. Pete, Miami and Charleston. All were big regattas with plenty of competition and opportunity to improve our speed and technique. During that time, we developed our flatter J6 Radial Jib for the fresher seasonal conditions we encounter on the East Coast. With our heavy air performance improved, we placed 4th overall at Key West without losing our good light air speed we had in Newport. At Charleston race week, we moved up to 3rd overall and topped the Dynasty division; racing both major regattas with my daughter Lindsay, Will Felder and Marc Gauthier. We race at 725 to 740 lbs depending on our team since I’m one of the heaviest drivers in the class at over 100 kilos.
During these travel regattas, we have refined our trimming and tuning techniques for the new J6 Radial jib. Our high clew jib allows us to inhaul the jib to the cabin house nonskid, which powers up the main and generates more helm and point. As the wind speed increases to the 7 to 8 knots max power condition, we start to depower by lowering the traveler toward center line and tension the outhaul all before touching the backstay. We only start using the backstay once the outhaul is tensioned and traveler car is nearing centerline to keep from having too much helm. Managing the correct amount of power while sailing close hauled is crucial for the Main Trimmer and Helmsman.
Jib development prior to La Rochelle Worlds
This summer we raced Africa in our local Fleet 9, only missing one race day during my trip to J/70 worlds in La Rochelle on Peter Duncan’s “Relative Obscurity”. We tested our current J6 Radial jib design in mid-June with Roller Battens in preparation for the Worlds. The Jib performed very well at the Worlds even though the experimental roller battens showed signs of fatigue by the end of a windy event, but overall performed well – winning the last race of the Worlds to place 7th overall. (The roller batten jibs may have a future in the J/70 once the batten durability improves.)
After returning from the Worlds in July, we made a standard vertical batten version of J6R, which we used to win the competitive J/70 New England Championships during Marblehead Race Week, in a wide range of windspeeds a sea conditions. That was our first win in a sanctioned J/70 championship event since we had started racing in 2013. So we were improving each regatta in 2015 with the NA’s fast approaching. Meanwhile Team Hooligan, one of our training partners at the North Americans, won Cleveland Race Week (they placed 7th at NA’s using the same main and jib combo as us.) At the end of August, we won the regional ONE Regatta in light air conditions that were a lot like San Diego.
Sail Selection for the North Americans
It’s unique to sail a big regatta in a venue where the conditions are so consistently light, but thankfully there was plenty of time to prepare for this. Leading up to September, I got invited to do a two-boat testing session in San Diego with Joel Ronning and his “Catapult” team. Joel had set up a two boat J/70 testing camp in San Diego for the month leading up to the NA’s and invited all the top sailmakers in the class to join in for a few days and test their designs at that venue. I couldn’t resist that opportunity, since Ronning was second at the Newport Worlds and has been one of the top boats on the circuit since the outset.
From that 2 days of testing on the NA’s track we learned our J6R performed just fine even in the light air and was especially quick with crew on the rail. What we also found was that our older Main from the 2014 NA’s in Rochester was a bit softer now and provided more power that would be needed for the light air anticipated for NA’s. While we came away from the New England’s with a win, I felt like for us to be competitive at our weight range in light air, we would need a better downrange soaking kite if we were going to have a shot at the podium.
After returning from the San Diego testing session, we raced in our fleet on Labor Day weekend in perfect San Diego light air and had great upwind speed versus our competitive fleet; but of more significance, we tested a refined early VMG design from 2013 that had always been a good light air spinnaker. We nicknamed it “Billy Baroo” after Judge Smails old wooded putter he used to sink his final putt in Caddyshack. That kite generated the most sheet load and would fly the most eased of any of our kites. That performance difference was generally dismissed and we decided that I was too heavy to be fast downwind. Initially, we dismissed the design because we were also too concerned about its planing ability, but testing a spinnaker’s planing performance is not an exact science. There are so many factors when comparing planing performance, that it is hard to prove one kite is clearly better than another in those conditions. One thing was for certain, since I am one of the heaviest skipper in the 70 class, and we would be one of the heavier crews, selecting the best spinnaker would be critical to our success.
We were able to test both days prior to the practice day and final day of measurement. On Monday, we tested inside the bay in very light air with Hooligan and Savasana. On Tuesday, we were able to test on the NA’s track with many top boats in 6-8 knots. We had competitive speed upwind, and experimented with different tuning settings to see which one worked best. We found that 2 settings below our base was the best for those conditions, that were unstable 6 to 8 knots. Downwind we swapped between kites to see which we liked better and selected the “Billy Baroo” as our primary kite and AP as our back up. At this point, most of the class has 2 viable spinnakers, and it makes sense to add in a specialized Light Air VMG spinnaker for regattas when you know the breeze is going to be under 10 knots and declare that as your primary spinnaker.
Going into the NA’s, we knew that to be among the top boats at the end of the regatta would need good consistent scores and I didn’t think any one boat was going to dominate the event. There was plenty of talent in the fleet and with all the races counting, the outcome would come down to the last race. The goal was to be one of those boats with a shot at the title going into that final race.
One thing that cannot be stressed enough that made a difference was having a consistent crew. Will Felder and Marc Gauthier sailed with me for most of the regattas this year, and we worked Victor Diaz in for a number of practice sessions as well. His knowledge with the San Diego venue proved invaluable and allowed all of us to work well together and keep our eyes on the prize throughout the regatta. Having confidence in your crew is essential to coming away from big regattas with a win.
The Velocitek ProStart does change the game, since everyone knows where the line is. There are some teams that like to mix it up at the ends of the line, but it is hard to pull off good starts near an end over the course of a 10 to 12 race series. Most of the fleet likes to start near the favored end, or in the case of San Diego near the windward end. If it looked too congested at the weather end with a couple of minutes to go, we would often bail out and move down the line. The times we started in a congested area, we would have been better off moving down the line. If the line was 15 or more degrees favored at the pin, the fleet would move to that end. 10 degree bias seemed to be about the right bias to spread out the fleet across the line.
In a big fleet, we generally do a port approach (unless it is heavy air) and try to get on starboard between 1:30 and 1 minute to go. I still try to approach the line with seconds and meters closely matching during that final minute on starboard. If it’s lighter, we have the jib deployed to be able to approach the line at a meter a second ratio and still have some time to scrub off. When it is 8 + knots, we approach with the jib furled, since we can approach at a meter a second ratio with just the main only. In that condition we generally deploy at 30 seconds but even later the windier it gets. Once the jib is deployed, the J/70 accelerates quickly, except in the light conditions. Deploying the jib in fresher conditions too early makes it hard to hold back and protect space to leeward. Any time I find myself with a minute to go and only 30 meters from the line, unless it is very light air, it generally does not end well.
More information on Doyle’s J/70 sails here.
Jud Smith, Head of Doyle One Design, sailing with Marc Gauthier, Victor Diaz, and William Felder on Africa, overcame a 15 point deficit on the final day of the J/70 North Americans to take the title in the competitive 50-boat fleet. Smith had sailed consistently through the 4 day event, with only one race outside the top 10 going into the final day, but it was the final two races that moved him from second into first.
Doug Strebel and the Zounds team led for the first thee days of the event, posting all top six scores except for one race yesterday. Tim Healy finished third, a position he had held throughout the four day event.
With light winds and a 2:00pm deadline for the final race start, Smith only had two races to shorten Strebel’s 15-point lead. Winds blew at an average of 6-8kts over the racing venue, set up just offshore from Coronado beach. The first race of the day was a four-leg course, with two upwind and two downwind sprints. Smith finished in 9th place, while Strebel fell to the second half of the fleet, finishing in 25th.
In addition to a major change on the scoreboard, Race 9 also had significant changes of its own. John Brigden (Cool Story, Bro) was poised for a top finish after an early lead in the upwind leg, but ultimately fell behind and finished in 14th place. Shannon Bush (Hooligan) and Thomas Bowen (Reach Around) both conceded two places during the second two legs, finishing in 6th and 4th, respectively.
Joel Ronning (Catapult) won Race 9, followed by Jeff Brown (J/70) in 2nd place and Julian Fernandez Neckelmann (Flojito y Cooperando) in 3rd.
Going into the final race of the regatta, a two-point spread separated Smith in 1st from Strebel in 2nd. Since competitors were not eligible for any throw-out scores, every race counted towards the final showdown.
By the time the fleet made it to the first upwind mark, Brad Rodi (Bl!ss) was leading the race with regatta leader Smith just four boats behind. Strebel was well behind the top third of the fleet during the second leg. He finished the race in 18th place, guaranteeing that Smith would take home the title.
For more information on Doyle’s J/70 sails, please visit here.
For complete regatta results, please visit here.
The ONE (Offshore New England) Championships, formally Marblehead-based PHRF New Englands, was hosted this past weekend out of the Corinthian Yacht Club. It was a light air regatta, as is typical for this end of August event.
In a very tight Class One, Swan 42 Mahalo, wins with three bullets under its belt over the course of the three day regatta. Mahalo is powered by a new Doyle upwind inventory, the same sails they used most recently to win the Swan 42 Nationals. On the trail to the upcoming NYYC Invitational Cup, it is a great win for Mahalo to beat the previous Invitational winners by four points at this event.
In other classes, Tom Drechsler on Dehler 38 Remain Silent, won Class IV by five points with all new Doyle sails. In the J/105 fleet, Blown Away won the class using a Doyle main and Fred DeNapoli on Allegro Semplicita. In the J/70 fleet, Jud Smith on Africa sailing with his wife, Cindy, and powered by Doyle, wins.
Mari Cha III has completed 5000 miles in just over a month of cruising with her new Doyle Stratis ICE sails, and her Captain Christian Lay has given us his take on how the new additions are performing under pressure.
The yacht was fitted with a full wardrobe of high performance ICE sails, created at Doyle Sails New Zealand’s Auckland loft, and the 44-metre yacht has been putting her new sail inventory through its paces. With the light, durable sails, Mari Cha III has found no loss of stability in arduous elements, delivering better performance and longevity.
“One of the big things we have noticed is how much easier the sails are to use than our previous ones. They set really easily and hold their shape so well,” says Lay.
“All the little details that we customised for this boat have made sail handling and manoeuvres, such as reefing, so much easier. The boat is very clearly faster. The service leading up to, getting hold of and then commissioning the sails cannot be faulted.”
Doyle Sails New Zealand’s Matt Bridge says the company enjoyed the process of producing the high-performance sails for the yacht.
“This was the first set of Doyle sails for Mari Cha III and working on such a well-known yacht was a really satisfying experience for us,” says Bridge, superyacht sails coordinator, Doyle Sails New Zealand.
“There was also a nice synergy for us, given that Doyle Sails New Zealand’s own Mike ‘Moose’ Sanderson, sailed onboard Mari Cha III during her record-breaking TransAtlantic crossing in 1998,” says Bridge.
ICE is a new generation UHMWP sail fibre first applied to the marine industry by the Doyle Stratis team, and tests have shown an exceptionally high resistance to flex fatigue, with ICE retaining its initial shape longer than other sail membranes.
“Dealing with the mizzen staysails and big code sails is now really easy and we can get rid of the 900 square meter Code 0, in about 10 seconds, which allows us to sail the boat harder and more aggressively with a smaller crew,” says Lay.
“We have already done 5000 miles with them in a little over a month and had every configuration possible in winds up to 40 knots. There have been no issues with stretch, chafe or wear. We have pushed them downhill with boat speeds into the mid 20 knot region and then done big round ups in big breeze to get them down. The new batten system hasn’t broken one yet which is a big improvement for us.”
“In short I think it’s fair to say that we are pretty bloody happy with them and I am now thinking about which other sails we need to buy for the upcoming adventures. Oh – and for the first time – we have some decent sail bags that are strong enough, big enough, which have enough hand holds and look cool with the names on,” ends Lay.
To learn more about the unique Stratis ICE fiber, please visit here.
Marblehead Race Week, now sailed as the Marblehead NOOD Regatta, got underway last week for the 126th running of the regatta with 140 boats competing in 9 different One Design Classes. As is the case in many years, Doyle-powered boats won the majority of the classes at the Marblehead NOOD Regatta, one of the northeast’s premier annual One-Design Regattas. Among other highlights, Doyle customers swept the podium in the Rhodes 19, Town Class, and IOD classes, as well as winning the J/70, J/105 at Etchells classes.
In the Rhodes 19 class, the fleet saw one of the most competitive finishes in recent history, with 7 lead changes over the 4 day event and a mere 8 points separated first through sixth. In the end, Jamie Holley, sailing Mankini with his wife Janice for the first three days and then his son Cameron for the final day, took home the win in a tie-breaker. When asked what his favorite part of race week was, Jamie answered, “My family. My wife crewed the first few days, and then my son did the last.” Team Mankini was named the overall winner of Race Week for their performance.
Holley and his crew beat out second place co-skippers Ken Cormier and Steve Dalton in an overall points tie because Holley ended with two race wins compared to Cormier’s one – both of which he scored in the final two races. “It was a very tough week of sailing,” said Holley. “We were only one of two fleets that had to sail all four days. We were 12 points down coming into the last day of sailing, and we pulled through.” He added, “There was everything from light air and flat water, to heavy air and high seas. I want to say it takes consistency to win, but we weren’t very consistent. There were at times five boats wide round the mark, and sometimes other factors made it a very complicated regatta.” Interestingly, in the 33-boat fleet, Holley was the only one to win more than one race, with 10 others each winning one race. Holley was using Doyle’s well proven race sails that have been extensively developed in recent years.
In the 23-boat J/70 fleet, Jud Smith and AFRICA put on a dominating performance, much of which Smith attributes to just plain better boat speed, coupled with some strong tactical calls from his wife Cindy. The regatta also doubled as the J/70 New England Championship, and featured some strong competition from as far away as Texas. Winning 5 of the 10 races, Smith felt good in the range of conditions he saw through the three days of racing. “We felt like our upwind boat speed and pointing ability was phenomenal. We’ve fine tuned the jib design a bit in the last few months to allow us to inhaul better which helps with out height off the line. We were sailing a bit heavy this regatta, so making sure we made our gains upwind was essential to making the whole race work” commented Smith reflecting on the week. At the end of the regatta, he received the Norman E. Cressy Trophy, which is awarded by the Marblehead Racing Association to the skipper who best displays the outstanding performance at Marblehead Race Week as it relates to fleet competitiveness, sportsmanship and overall smart sailing. In addition to Smith, three of the top four Corinthian Teams were using Doyle Sails.
In the J/105 Class, it was Fred deNapoli on Allegro Semplicita who came away with the win after several lead changes. Despite his success in other regattas with his boat, deNapoli had to be pleased with his performance this year, as he previously looked back on his 12 years in the class, remarking “In 2003, I borrowed a J/105 and came in second by a point or two. Last year I again came in second by a point or so. We’ve always been the bridesmaid, and never the bride.” deNapoli was using Doyle’s latest Stratis jib design, along with a AP Crosscut Main and Airx 700 Class Spinnaker.
In the Town Class, sailing with one of the largest fleets in recent memory. Berit Solstad came away with a commanding victory over local rival Kelley Braun. After years of dominance in the Town Class, Doyle successful introduced a new mainsail design, which was utilized by Solstad in the victory.
The Etchells fleet, a longtime favorite in Marblehead, was also successful for Doyle One Design’s own Tomas Hornos, who came away with the win after winning half of the 8 races. Hornos is a relative newcomer in the Etchells fleet, but has put together a string of impressive performances in the last year.
The Marblehead IOD fleet has always been one of the most photogenic fleets around, with classic boats and matching fleet sails, which make for close racing. This year it was Charlie Richter racing Javelin who came out on top. Doyle has been proud to supply sails to the IOD fleet in Marblehead, among other venues, and has consistently produced top level sails that perform well over the many years that the sails rotate through.
To learn more about Doyle’s One Design Sails, please visit here.
For Full Regatta Results, please visit here.
Pictures courtesy Bruce Durkee