American YC Spring Series Preview

Posted on April 29, 2017

J/44s sailing one-design on Long Island Sound(Rye, NY)- Starting this coming weekend, the annual Long Island Sound offshore sailing season begins with the American Yacht Club’s Spring Series.  This annual rite of spring ensures that passionate sailors around the Sound get themselves organized, clean up their boats, refresh paint jobs, and check out their new sails in time to sail this weekend.

On Saturday morning, it is an amazing phenomenon to experience as boats from seemingly every corner of western Long Island Sound materialize- from the East River’s King Point and SUNY Maritime Academies, from Harlem YC, Huguenot YC, Hempstead Harbor YC, Huntington YC, Sea Cliff YC, Larchmont YC, Indian Harbor YC and so forth on either shoreline of Connecticut and New York’s Long Island.  Sixty-nine boats in all (47 J’s are 68% of the fleet!!) are participating in a two weekend series that can see up to four races per day in ideal conditions and up to 12+ races if all things go well for the RC PRO’s and the racers (hopefully, not too many General Recalls!).

The forecast for the weekend shows the potential for SW 15-25 kt winds on Saturday and SE 8-15 kt winds on Sunday; a recipe for great sailing.  However, the “fly in the ointment” may be the “extreme tides” forecasted by NOAA, with 8.5 foot tides producing massive currents and whirlpool-like tide lines- low tide around 0830 hrs and high tides around 1500 hrs could wreck havoc for navigator/tacticians around the race track.

In the world of one-design racing, there are fleets of J/70s, J/88s, J/105s, J/109s, and J/44s that will be spread across two racing circles.

The fifteen-boat J/70 fleet is enjoying a great turnout for the start of their season on the Sound.  Many familiar faces that have been sailing the J/70 winter circuit are in attendance, mostly all local boats from local yacht clubs.  J/70 Corinthians Midwinters winners, Andrew & Melissa Fisher and “the twins”, are racing BUTTON FLY and hope to maintain their edge developed over the winter regattas.  They will be hard-pressed by crews like Scot & Alex Furnary’s ANY COLOUR, Dan Goldberg’s BAZINGA, Carrie & Ed Austin’s CHINOOK, Marshal Saffer’s LET IT RIP, Andrew Shea’s SHAKE’N’BAKE, and Madelyn & Megan Ploch’s USA 88.

Similar to the J/70s, two J/88 teams that have experienced Key West, St Petersburg, and Charleston during the winter months are primed to apply their consistent form to their first event on the Sound in the seven-boat J/88 class.  Those crews, Iris Vogel’s DEVIATION and Mike Bruno’s WINGS, will have their hands full with local teams like Doug McKeige’s JAZZ, Elizabeth Barry’s ESCAPE, Ken & Drew Hall’s NEVERMORE, John Pearson’s new RED SKY, and Kevin Marks’ VELOCITY.

J/105s sailing Long Island SoundLeaders of the eight-boat J/105 class will all depend on who’s got their crew organized and minimize their boat-handing errors.  Such is the closeness of the teams, that if any one boat gets it all together, they can easily dominate the first weekend.  However, as history shows, the winner of the first weekend often does not have the ability to maintain that pace on the second weekend!  Time will tell, of course!  Nevertheless, in that group vying for the leaderboard should be Duncan Hennes teamed with Za & Lib Jeliffe on ARETE, Max Kalehoff’s LAURA BEA, Paul Beaudin’s LOULOU, George & Alex Wilbanks’ REVELATION and the biggest “wild card”- the Young American Jr Big Boat Team on YOUNG AMERICA!

With their pending J/109 North Americans just around the proverbial corner- being held at Block Island Race Week- the nine-boat strong J/109 class will be learning quickly “who’s on first” in the pecking order.  Some boats will already be quite well-prepared, others will still be cleaning out the leaves in their cockpits and oil in their bilges as they head to the starting line on Saturday.  Although there are a number of new faces in the crowd, it’s likely the veteran campaigners will rule the roost, at least on the first weekend in good breezes.  Look for these teams to be a factor in the top five; Jonathan Rechtschaffer’s EMOTICON, David Rosow’s LOKI, Carl Olsson’s MORNING GLORY and Robert Schwartz’s NORDLYS.

The grand-daddy of the offshore J one-design classes, the J/44s, have a nice turnout of five boats itching to get out on the water and tackle a new season of 44 sailing in the northeast.  Many of the boats are looking at this first weekend as trial runs to determine how and where they can improve their teams as they head for the J/44 North Americans at Block Island Race Week later in June. It is a formidable group of teams as most have, over the course of time, won and placed in both top offshore events  (like the Bermuda Race) and in class events.  Those teams include Jeff Willis’ CHALLENGE IV, Bill Ketcham’s MAXINE, Bob & June Kendrick’s PALANTIR 5, Don & Dick Rave’s RESOLUTE and Len Sitar’s VAMP.

In the PHRF handicap world, PHRF 1 sees Paul Strauch’s J/111 ANDIAMO and Bill Ingraham’s J/124 TENEBRAE taking on all comers in their seven-boat class.  And, in PHRF 2, Jason Viseltear’s J/80 UPSETTER will be looking to do just that, upset their class of six boats.  For more American YC Spring Series sailing informationAdd to Flipboard Magazine.

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