It was some spectacularly close racing this weekend at J80 NA’s in Kemah Texas. Lakewood Yacht Club ran a fantastic event and the competitors were treated to some perfect weather and excellent racing. 26 boats entered with a few big names in the sailing world coming out to play. I was fortunate to get a ride on Mojito and race with a team that was on average probably the youngest crew out there. Day 1 was a perfect day on the water and the first race started without much intensity. Almost the entire fleet was more than 2-3 boat-lengths away from the line so it seemed everyone was taking things extremely cautious. Kerry Klingler stated his intentions by getting the first win of the weekend. The Storck family, also from NY put in two solid races and if not for a little lack of consistency would have challenged for the top spot. It is really nice to see a family program on the water doing so well. The rest of the top five were the usual suspects with a few of the Houston locals like Uzi Ozeri on his boat Infinity putting in some solid races trying to break into the top group.
Saturday was postponed for a few hours so I hit the bar and met some of the people running the event and had a fun time conversing about the racing over a bloody mary. The race committee eventually sent us out in the light stuff and we started to get some races off. Light and shifty was a big change from the 15+ we had the day before. Boats were up and down and Klingler registered a 13 on race number 5, which happened to be our best finish, sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. The rest of the top 5 were not without their difficulties with Darden getting a 8 and Team Quantum on a 10. The party Saturday night was excellent, free beer, a Reggae band and my new favorite bartender all made for a fun evening. I was pretty sure I won the party so if you were the person posting in the forum before the regatta you got at least one thing right!
Sunday was filled with expectations and we were on a high after getting a second in race 5 and were thinking top ten should be easily attainable. The racing ended up being so close that a few boat-lengths would be the difference between top ten and a 15! We were able to see the smoke from the finishing gun but still were really deep. This just displays how evenly matched most of the boats are. In the end it was Kerry Klingler who edged out Terry Flynn by 1 point and took the honor of top spot and J80 North American Champion! We did not get our top ten so a little disappointment was felt on our boat. What I did get was a new respect for racing around this area and a few new friends in the sailing community. Congratulations to everyone who came out, especially if you came in from the East Coast or Colorado, it is that kind of commitment that will keep this sport thriving. Results. -Keith Magnussen. Ariel Shot by Chris K.