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Gunboat 60 sailing in Annapolis, MD.

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Posts Tagged ‘jeff macfarlane’

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Thanks to a string of boat and mast problems in the Mini fleet, we’ve called young solo/shorthanded offshore racer Jeffrey Macfarlane ‘one of the unluckiest guys in the sport’, but as of Monday, Jeff’s luck seems to be changing.  Below is an SA exclusive from Jeff on his victory and leg record on Leg 2 of the Atlantic Cup, with a Billy Black photo to the left, and galleries of the whole race here.  You can check in with the racers tomorrow night at the party at Jamestown FISH, and say hello to Clean and Mer if you show up.  And Newport locals can watch them out racing this weekend alongside the International Moths and the Open 60s.  

My co-skipper, Jake Arcand , and I were looking for redemption in leg 2 and we got it! Our first leg was disappointing. We blew up our A2 spinnaker and lost all of our electronics for the majority of the 600+ mile race. Thanks to generosity of Steve Benjamin we were starting leg 2 with a one spinnaker – he donated an old Spookie kite to our program [that's the one with the Swisher cigar logo -Ed] and we were able to get a last-second sail recut, just in time to replace our irreplaceable A2.

At the start of the second leg, the breeze was fairly light and we decided to stay on the south side of New York harbor to take advantage of a slightly stronger tide and freshening breeze. But, it was not until after the bridge that our strategy began to pay off and we started to leg out on Dragon and Pleiad, more to the North. We led the fleet out of the harbor and planned to take the Swash channel. Everything was going perfectly to plan, but after seeing Pleiad choose to take the more inshore Sandy Hook Channel, we reevaluated and decided to cover. Unfortunately, they were able to stretch some distance on us, but once we were clear of the channel we slowly began to chip away at their lead, eventually passing them.

Most of the fleet chose an offshore route on the way south to the Barnegat Light buoy, but I positioned us more on the beach side of the course, anticipating the wind shifting West. Our strategy worked, except for the brief period of time when there was no breeze in a wind transition. Mike and Rob on Dragon stayed very close to us and they handled the transition a bit better, reaching the new breeze before us.  We rounded the tuning mark just behind, and began the night jockeying positions with them. We took a northerly course from rhumb line anticipating the breeze would head us come morning, and when morning came we were a mile or two in front of Dragon. However, the wind did not head us like all of the weather models predicted and we found ourselves in yet another wind transition zone where Dragon, who was further offshore, managed to pass the transition zone quicker, and passed us in the processl. From then on, it was all drag race – a speed run to Montauk Point during which time we desperately tried to regain our lead. As we sailed inside Block Island we kept going higher in order to get more speed on Dragon. Frustratingly, she matched us until we both began to sail as deep as possible in order to make Point Judith. The breeze offered us ideal downwind conditions on the way to Point Judith and we sailed downwind straight to Newport at 15-17 knots.

As we approached Narragansett Bay, we were still just a few boatlengths behind Dragon on port gybe and very close to the shore. The wind began to lighten and we matched Dragon’s every move, hoping to get an advantage on them. We did not get the advantage until we both gybed and they came out a bit higher. I was able to take a few puffs and soak just a few degrees deeper than them, and we were able to get below them on the inside gybe. We took advantage of any depth we could get and we tried to get more separation from Dragon, covering their every gybe. It worked! We ended up in very light winds approaching the finish just 80 seconds in front of Dragon. We not only won the leg, but we also set a new course record by over 6 hours.

Jake and I could not have been more pleased, and what a result for one of the oldest Class 40s in the fleet, donated for my use by the inimitable Ralfie Steitz from the USMMA Sailing Foundation.  Ralfie and the King’s Point program continues with its mission to help young, up and coming sailors get more opportunities in the limited American shorthanded sailing scene.  By coupling his support with that of Oakcliff Sailing, our team has fulfilled this mission proudly.  There is a very long list of sponsors and supporters that have had an instrumental part in the success that I have had over the past few years.

We have a fantastic inshore team consisting of Phil Garland – our mast manufacturer and sponsor from Hall Spars, Ross Weene – one of the boat’s designers from Roger Martin Designs, Chris Poole – fellow Oakcliff sailor and top ranked match racer, as well as Oakcliff graduate Ervin Grove. We are looking forward to combining our strengths to find more success in the final, inshore leg of the Atlantic Cup this coming weekend.  We are hoping to win the inshore series and pull out an overall Atlantic Cup victory.

Wish us luck!

-Jeff

 

May 22nd, 2014 by admin

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Veteran ocean racers will  tell you the race to get to the line is often far more grueling than a major race across a major ocean, and no one epitomizes this more than Mini racer Jeff MacFarlane.  He catches us up with a summer of not-so-fun on his way to the October start of the most anarchic of ocean races.  There’s a video of some high speed mini training here.

Back in April, my Mini Transat campaign was almost destroyed after my boat, Mini 716, basically disintegrated around me while I was sailing in the Mediterranean Sea during my 1,000 mile singlehanded qualification sail for the 2013 Mini Transat. The incident left me with a crushed hand and without a boat.

Fortunately, I was able to charter another boat – #759, and with the help of my amazing doctors in New York and New Jersey, I was sailing again by the beginning of June. Because of all of the sailing I had done in early 2013, I had already completed the 1,000 miles of racing I needed to qualify for the Transat and was halfway done with my 1,000 mile nonstop passage, but unfortunately, the boat you qualify in must be the same boat you race the actual Transat in, so when I chartered 759, I had to start all of my qualifications over again. Luckily, there were just enough races and time left for me to complete the long list of necessary stuff.

I flew back to France at the very end of May to finalize the charter arrangements of 759 with the owner. At this point, my hand really was not healed. I still was experiencing a great deal of pain and was really concerned about making the injury worse. I spent a few days sailing with the boat designer, Sam Manuard, in hopes that he would help me become accustomed to the new boat quickly, but I knew I still had a long way to go.

Shortly after that, I competed in the 220 mile long Trophee MAP race starting on June 13 and the 600 mile long Mini Fastnet race starting on June 23. Both races started in Dournanez, France. These races were difficult in part because I had to be cautious – if I didn’t finish them, I didn’t qualify for the Mini Transat. I was also a bit nervous about injuring my hand further, and I simply needed more time with the boat to master all of the ins and outs of the vessel, as it is very different from 716. I was frustrated after these races and this feeling of frustration was heightened even further as I began my 1,000 mile nonstop single-handed qualification sail. Just a mile from the dock and in only 5 knots of wind, my sidestay broke, causing the mast to start to drop. Luckily, my spinnaker halyard was clipped to the lifeline and helped keep the mast from totally breaking. I was able to quickly flag down a boat to tow me back to the dock in Douranenez to start the necessary repairs. My fiancé Laura had missed her bus and was still around, so she helped me make the arrangements to haul the boat, remove the mast, and install the new rigging. I was back on the water just a few days later and used the 10-day-long, light-air sail to really get to know my new boat. By the time I arrived in Port Bourgenay for the start of the Transgascogne Race, I was more confident and finally felt ready to compete.

While I only finished 9th overall in the Trangascogne, I considered my performance to be a real success. I had great boat speed throughout the two leg 660 mile long race, but the tactical risk I made during the second leg to sail west of the course did not pan out the way I had anticipated. Regardless, my speed was pretty amazing and despite sailing over 60 miles further than the boats in front of me, I only finished 5 hours behind the winner. My performance at the Transgascogne Race really pleased me, but I knew I needed another race before the Transat.

I decided to register for the 500 mile long Le Grand Huit race in La Grande Motte. While it took a lot of logistical work to get my boat all of the way to the other side of France, I managed and sailed an amazing race, finishing first overall. My tactical decisions and boat speed helped me finish 11 hours before the next single handed competitor. After completing the Transgascogne Race I was finally qualified for the Mini Transat, but unfortunately, just before the start of the Le Grand Huit race I was told that I was on the wait list for the Transat. I was devastated. After years of backbreaking work and a pile of both money and hardship, I realized that there was a real possibility that I would not be able to compete in the Transat.

While there were plenty of spots available before the Transgascogne Race and the registration was supposed to be closed, several veteran Mini Transat sailors decided to register for the Transat before the Transgascogne finished. Of all of the sailors needing to complete the Transgascogne Race to qualify for the Transat, I was the last one to finish my 1,000 mile solo qualification sail (due to the problems occurring earlier in the season), so I was placed in the first slot on the wait list. Because of the Mini Class rules, sailors who have sailed in the Transat within the last 5 years only have to compete in one Mini race to be eligible for the Transat while new competitors have to sail over 2,000 miles. While I was certainly disappointed, I decided not to let the news get me down, and just had to wait and see what would happen next. Fortunately for me, another sailor in the prototype class dropped out and I was officially placed on the list within the week. Getting that news as I finished the Le Grand Huit race made my win even sweeter!

Days after finishing Le Grand Huit, I got more good news when the Class rankings were updated.  I moved up to the number 3 spot worldwide! Before losing 716 I was ranked 1st, but after missing several races and lower race results as I got to know 759, I dropped down to number 5. I am so proud that my hard work elevated me back to the #3 position. I flew back to the US shortly after finishing in La Grande Motte to visit with my family and friends, fundraise, and collect a few items necessary for the Transat. I will be home for another week before heading back to France. Once I get there, I will have to do a great deal of work to ensure that all of the final preparations are taken care of before the start of the Mini Transat on October 13. I am very excited for the race to begin. Thank you to Oakcliff Sailing and to all of you that have supported my campaign. My success is due to you! My budget is still extremely tight, and if you’d like to help put a little sorely-needed money in the bank account for last minute spends, I’d be grateful. You can donate or find out more about my program at www.jeffreymacfarlane.com.

 

September 16th, 2013 by admin

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