Posts Tagged ‘J/70’
A windy and cool Key West Race Week wrapped up last week, with 48 boats racing in the J/70 class. At Doyle Sailmakers, we were very pleased with two boats in the top ten and Peter Duncan’s Relative Obscurity clinching second place to be the top American finisher. We were able to have a conversation with Peter after the event for his perspective on the event. Peter was quick to note the merits of his exceptional team of multiple world champion winners Moose McClintock and Karl Anderson, as well as North American Champion Victor Diaz. They were sailing in the range of 730-740 pounds, which Peter finds to be a comfortable weight in all conditions, but particularly in waves where having weight on the rail is important.
While Duncan primarily campaigns his Etchells, the transition to the J/70 has been a good one, and Relative Obscurity was 7th at the 2015 Worlds in La Rochelle, France. While the Key West fleet was still smaller than Worlds, the top end of the fleet was still incredibly competitive with the top three finishers at World’s competing against each other again.
Comparing the two events, Duncan noted Key West was breezier, with much bumpier seas, so they had to work to keep the boat powered up more. Because of other commitments, and the weather just prior to the regatta, the preparation was condensed and forced the team to make sure the boat was well prepared so there were no hiccups in the event. Each day of the event, Relative Obscurity was able to do a couple of hours of two boat tuning with my team on Africa. Both boats were using Doyle Cross Cut Class Main, Pro Radial Jibs and VMG Spinnakers for the regatta. We were able to test not only tuning for the conditions and weight placement, but also learn a lot about the course with five minute split tacks and split gybes on each side of the race track.
The team primarily relied on Commanders for weather and forecasting, which the race committee kept heavy tabs on as well and Duncan found to be very good throughout the week.
Starts were extremely important with such a large fleet on a short starting line. I asked Duncan about his regatta and starting strategy. At first, they were tentative, but they switched to a more aggressive mode and ended up over the line early twice. On one occasion, they were able to come back and win the race, whereas the other OCS was more difficult to dig out of and they placed 21st, their throw out. These made them more conservative, trying to attack the line without pushing it too hard. They tended towards the favored end of the line, but prioritized less crowded areas. Peter figures they sailed the first weather beat fairly conservatively, never really losing contact with the fleet. Their results were very consistent in this competitive fleet, which they achieved by getting to the edges, without ever going for anything really extraordinary. Each crew member clicked into a specific role on the boat, with McClintock in charge of overall strategy, Diaz calling boat to boat tactics, and Anderson keeping his head in the boat for tuning and sail trim.
Moose McClintock, who has now sailed with a number of different J70 programs, had some interesting
observations regarding the Jib in particular. “I was impressed with the ease of using the sails. I prefer pull and go so I can keep my head out of the boat and I think you achieve this in your designs. I think we learned a lot about the inhaul use on the Pro radial Jib over the course of the week, having Victor aboard was critical for us as he used the same inhaul technique on the Jib that you used at North Americans. He did say after sailing Friday that the inhaul was the key on Friday as he ended up with the same jib sheet setting and played the inhaul depending on how much power he needed, mostly a different way to get to the same end. Eye opening for me.”
With fast upwind and downwind speed and an obviously harmonious team, Peter is planning to do Bacardi Cup, North Americans in Texas, Europeans in Germany, and Worlds in San Francisco, hopefully with a similar team depending on everyone’s schedule.
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.
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
Skipper, Trey Sheehan, of Hooligan Flat Stanley Racing and team on his J/70 ‘Hooligan’ win the class at Cleveland Race Week this past weekend with one race to spare. Hooligan continues to move up each regatta, powered fully by Doyle sails, with Brad Boston of Doyle Boston aboard.
Doyle Sailmakers is proud to be involved in the inaugural J/70 Worlds in Newport, R.I., running from September 8-13 at the New York Yacht Club. Many of our Doyle customers and sailmakers will be competing in this inaugural event. Doyle’s One Design team has built sails for many of the competitors and with over 90 boats on the starting line for this event, the starting line will be crowded with numerous world champions in other classes – all vying to be the first J/70 world champion.
The boat has also recently been chosen as Sailing World’s 2014 Boat of the Year and is designated as an International Class by ISAF (International Sailing Federation). At only two and half years old but over 600 boats sailing in over 20 countries, Doyle Sailmakers is proud to be one of the premiere one-design sailmakers for the fleet.
Adding to the luster of competing in the inaugural worlds is the fact that many of Doyle’s sailmakers will be a part of this event, including 2006 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Jud Smith, who has been building sails for many Doyle customers in the J/70 fleet as they prepare for this event.
“Although this is the Worlds, at this time it will primarily US Boats being sailed but this will be the regatta to peak for,” Smith said. “It will be interesting to see how some of the boats do who are peaking right now. There are some boats who are at the right time to peak and there are certain players who have emerged strong very recently – so this is their time.”
Many Doyle customers and sailmakers will be at this event. Peter Duncan, who got into the J/70 class early on, has been training all summer after campaigning his Etchells for most of last year. Sailing USA 49 “Relative Obscurity” he brings along long-time crew Tom Blackwell and has added Mark Ivy and Doyle’s own Greg Marie. Earlier this year, Duncan finished 3rd in the 40 boat fleet at Bacardi Miami Sailing Week.
Jud Smith will be sailing with his wife Cindy, Jake Ladow, and Doyle One Design’s Will Felder. Earlier this summer, Smith won the J/70 class at the Marblehead NOOD regatta.
Doyle CFD’s Tyler Doyle, who has spent extensive time developing proprietary software to analyze sail shape and boat setup in real time for the J/70, will be sailing with Chris Boulter, Indre Jankeviciute, and Terra Berlinski on USA 245.
Brad Boston of Doyle Boston (Canada), fresh from winning the Viper 640 North Americans last week, will be racing with team “Hooligan”, with skipper Tres Sheehan, Curtis Florence and Lindsay Bartal.
Mark Ploch of Doyle City Island in New York will be racing his USA 61 “Sugar Daddy” with Mark Foster, Rob Fear and Tomas Hornos from Doyle One Design.
We are looking forward to a very exciting and successful regatta.
Full regatta information can be found here.
Jud Smith, sailing with his wife Cindy, daughter Darby and Rick Myers, won the first event of the J/70 Winter Series, held January 11-12 at the Davis Island Yacht Club in Tampa, Florida. In the competitive 39 boat fleet, Smith finished in the top ten in all 5 races, and won two of three races on the first day. Also using Doyle’s latest J/70 sails were Mike Dressel who finished fifth, and Mark Ploch in seventh.
Saturday was the windier day of the two, with the breeze beginning at 12 knots and building to 20 by the end of the day. With the breeze out of the south, waves increased to 1-3 feet. Smith was confident in his upwind boatspeed, pointing out that he was first to the first windward mark in all three races on Saturday, with some downwind boat handling issues holding him back in race 2.
The event was an excellent warm up for Key West Race Week, which starts later this month and will have over 60 boats on the line.
Doyle One Design has been working on refining its J/70 sail designs for over a year now, and having done extensive modeling, testing and regattas, feels confident that its sails are the best on the race course – and results like this only reinforce that belief.
Doyle’s Tuning Guide and Tuning Matrix have been updated, and can be found here.