J/80 Worlds report- Day 3- Another Epic Day
The third day of racing proved to be one of the most challenging to date. While the first two days were held in pretty epic conditions offshore of Newport’s fabled Brenton Reef. Thursday was held in the northern parts of Narragansett Bay in a very shifty, gusty 10 to 30 knot WNW breeze. What a treat for the fleet. Flat water, blowing like hell at times. Wild, screaming flat out planing reaches with spray flying everywhere. To getting blown over in seriously strong micro-burst puffs that would materialize less than 50 feet in front of you and simply knock you flat. Crazy, crazy stuff. But fun!!
The PRO Tom Duggan coordinating with Brad Read from SailNewport had a helluva time setting a 1.5nm course in the confines of the Bay just north of Gould Island and immediately south of Halfway Rock and its markers. Ever try fitting a 60+ boat fleet of adrenalin-fueled dragsters in your backyard? Same problem. Compounding the issue were near record high tides a few feet above normal that were now in full-on ebb flushing out the Bay at 1.0+ knots across the race track. Nevertheless, after a few tries, the three races for the day went off without too many issues.
Again, the fleet were treated to an incredibly spectacular day. Can’t ever remember sailing for over FIVE straight days in winds like these in any regatta in recent memory. The winds off Jamestown were unusual, hammer-blow puffs that were literally knocking boats over sideways and simply dumping the main/jib upwind were often not sufficient enough to keep you on your feet and moving forward.
At the beginning of the day, the winds started in the 255 to 265 range. Then it ultimately switched into a more NW quadrant by day’s end, giving us wind shots in the 290-305 degree range. It’s no joke, the winds ranged from a mild-mannered 10-15 knots to some insanely puffy conditions pushing 30+ knots— sailing downwind and mark-roundings were a bit chaotic. However, one could argue the traffic at the weather mark (tucked up under the Jamestown shore) after a 1.5nm leg with 25 leading boats packed within a 100 yard radius tacking on 30-40 degree shifts up to 25 knots might be easily described as "insane"– sure made for some strong "verbal" exchanges amongst some competitors.
It was great to see Moose McClintock and Albie Terhune sail well, getting one of the best scores of the day, posting a killer tally of 8-1-6, winning their first race in the regatta and moving themselves into 11th overall with an easy chance for a top ten score overall. We found them on the dock this morning beating the crap out their mast with sledge-hammers, rig all loosened up trying to change their rake and pre-bend. Moose was NOT happy. Anyhow, all the hammering and bashing seemed to work! Sailing aboard RASCAL, we were yet another "local Newport" boat that won a race today. In fact, dominating most of the first race (race #6) and dueling it out with Scott Young’s and Terry Flynn’s QUANTUM RACING for line honors in a wild planing duel to the finish. Also deserving of a few high fives were Scott and Terry on QR- hell, a 2-7-3 is not too shabby in this fleet. And, cousin Jeff J also knocked it out of the park today on LITTLE FEAT, getting a
5-2-5. To be perfectly honest, had Rayco Tabares on HOTEL PRINCESA CANARIAS not pulled off some remarkably stupid moves for such an experienced sailor, he’d had a 3-1-3 for the day and be winning the J/80 Worlds for the second time in his life, well clear of his closest competitors. Well, "stuff happens". Seems like a fourth Spanish team may win this year’s event if they’re careful and crafty.
There were some wild rides downwind, especially when some of the gusts hit near 30+ knots. Some carnage, too. A broken topmast (still can’t figure that one out) and a friend getting a few stitches in his head for not ducking his own boom during a gybe– must’ve been combat fatigue (thankfully he’s fine after getting Medvac’d out off Goat Island).
BTW, the fleet was treated to a morning sunrise "rainbow". I’ve included it here for you to see. I can honestly say I have never seen such a phenomenon before in my life, having cruised or raced across the world. Perhaps it was a sign for the J/80 fleet that we’d have a special day. We did. Speaking to friends afterwards, it was clear people were pretty physically stressed out after 3+ days of 15-25 knots winds. I think many jib/ spinnaker trimmers were demanding either a huge pay-scale hike (more food, beer and Advil) or opting for either end of the boat- you name it, Skipper or Bowman. Anything with NO strings attached! Hands are raw. Backs bent and strained. Knees sore. Six-pack abs stressed beyond belief. And, brains simply squeezed beyond any measure of "tactical intelligence" left in them.
It’s all been fun and games so far. Great sailing. Lotsa good sailors. And, anyone winning this event will most assuredly deserve the Worlds title! Everything including the kitchen sink, the baby and the bath water have been thrown out at them! More intriguing news after the finale tomorrow (Friday).
– Stu J.
Thanks very much to Photoboat for these great shots