Round Ups+Round Downs=Torn Spinnakers for the 2018 SFYC Summer Keel Regatta

Regatta report by Tim Russell of Ne*Ne, Hull #3

Motoring to the race course you could tell it was going to be a windy day, as the forecast predicted. At first it looked like racing would be postponed, because by 11 o’clock, the race committee was nowhere to be seen. But shortly thereafter, they arrived in force and quickly set up the course in time for our 12 o’clock start. Twenty-three boats started the first race, but only seventeen boats finished race three (more on that later). A 7 degree righty on the first leg favored the boats that started at the committee boat and went right early. The boats that started at the pin were left to find a hole in the long parade of starboard tack boats that were on the lay line. The perfect sailing conditions in race one were replaced with increasing wind and chop in the subsequent two races. Several boats reported seeing gusts over 25 knots. Going right continued to be favored all day and the boats that started at the committee boat consistently came out on top at the weather mark. The more challenging conditions put a premium on boat handling and the upwind mode had to change to more twist in the sails to power through the lump. The conditions caused six boats to drop out for equipment failure and, of course, the sailmakers were pleased because several kites where ripped or torn to pieces. The kites hung to dry with disgrace from the masts of the boats at the guest dock. And stories of how sheets weren’t blown or released in time were heard at the bar. When the results were posted, they showed Akula in first, 2 points ahead of Ne*Ne who was 2 points ahead of Godot.

Sunday’s weather was more civilized and was a welcome change from the day before. Going right was still favored and even though the pin was favored, most boats chose to start at the boat. This caused congestion at that end of the line and a general recall was hailed. (It wouldn’t be a J/105 regatta without at least one general recall.) Going into the restart of race four, the committee chose to be kind and just go with the standard P flag instead of a more punitive option. This was the bright side for Ne*Ne, Arbitrage, and Box of Rain, who were called over early. It also made things very interesting because Maverick won the race and Blackhawk came in second, creating a two way tie for first with Maverick and Godot with 17 points and Ne*Ne, Blackhawk and Akula tied for third with 18 points. It was anyone’s regatta going into the fifth and final race. Ne*Ne took race five, winning the regatta with 19 points, Maverick in second with 20, and Blackhawk took third with 22.

For the second straight regatta, there were several boats separated by a few points going into the final race. The racing couldn’t get much tighter. It has been some of the best racing in years and it’s a perfect lead up for our final two regattas!

Full results:

Fleet #1 AdminRound Ups+Round Downs=Torn Spinnakers for the 2018 SFYC Summer Keel Regatta
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2018 Spring Competition, Conditions Test Fleet & Ne*Ne Leads as We Head into Summer

The 2018 J/Stop, hosted May 5-6 by St. Francis YC, was marked by blustery west winds from the mid-teens to upper 20s, and an early flood tide cycle, which combined with city front course position to make most races become a rumble to get right off the line. Only once did the RC cant the pin end enough to entice Arbitrage and Mojo to port-tack the fleet with success. Race wins went to Blackhawk (two), Ne*Ne (two), Donkey Jack, Alchemy, and Arbitrage (one each). Blackhawk took the overall handily, and Maverick was runner-up with consistent top 5 finishes both days. View regatta results HERE and see Chris Ray’s photos HERE.

In the 2018 Elite Keel, hosted May 19-20 by San Francisco YC, we saw some top boats ejected from the top five by strong showings from Akula, Jam Session, Juju, and Advantage3 (finishing 2nd through 5th respectively). The circle had wind reports in the 30’s on Saturday and oddly moderate conditions Sunday. Sweet, sweet victory came at last to Ne*Ne, Tim Russell and team’s first of this maiden season with the new ride. View regatta results HERE.

Bringing us up to date with all the action, a smaller showing of boats ventured to the circle once again for the 2018 San Francisco YC June Invitational, June 16-17, and was treated to another Saturday blast. Enough breakdowns and knockdowns inspired the RC to call it quits after one race. “That’s right,, I am dangerous,” so said Maverick: Ian Charles and team posted a 3-3-1 to take the weekend’s overall prize. Akula sailed a great regatta to take 2nd again. View regatta results HERE.

Fleet #1 Admin2018 Spring Competition, Conditions Test Fleet & Ne*Ne Leads as We Head into Summer
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2018 J/Fest: Tough Tidal Tactics & Time in Room

J/105 Arbitrage #116 with co-owners Bruce Stone at the helm and Nicole Breault at main/tactics won the 2018 SF Bay J/Fest in the face of difficult tidal conditions. Full results at:

Commentary from photographer Chris Ray: “In the face of a challenging weather forecast, the St Francis Yacht Club held its annual J/Fest last weekend, with 27 J/105s competing. Rain? Low Clouds, Wind? Sun? Well, parts of all of the above; it all turned into a glorious weekend. The tide charts professed that we would have an ebb tide but the starting line had strong flood currents going well into the early afternoon, making “local knowledge” all the more important.”

In each race, around 20 of the 27 teams tried to start at the signal boat, tack to port and foot out to the late ebb in the middle of SF Bay.  Those who were pinned off the line on starboard, going southerly toward the shore into more flood, even for just 1 minute quickly found themselves a quarter mile behind any who escaped to the North into the westerly river, swollen by recent heavy rains.  Those in the river found themselves sliding sideways, at several knots, upwind toward starboard lay-line, accomplishing impressive VMG up to 9.5 knots due to both the favorable tide and the enhanced apparent wind.

Despite being in some second or third row starts, Arbitrage and others were still able to tack around the signal boat, and go bow down on port, reaching out to the river and catching up to anyone in the peloton sailing their boats normally upwind on a beat.

Nevertheless, there are always exceptions to the rule and in one start, Arbitrage spotted a left shift before the gun and boogied down to the tidally-unfavored pin end, starting on port and crossing the entire fleet, then footing back out to the ebb.

The regatta was initially dominated by new owner Tim Russell and the talented team on Ne*Ne who scored two bullets and two 5ths, leading Arbitrage by 3 points going into the last race.  However, just before arriving at the three boat length circle around the last leeward mark, Ne*Ne luffed Arbitrage sharply and caused a collision.  After untangling themselves, both boats passed several others on the remaining two legs, with Ne*Ne finishing that race in 2nd and Arbitrage 3rd  while securing #1 and #2 respectively in the regatta. However, after a long evening in the protest room, Ne*Ne was DSQ’d and Arbitrage moved up to the top spot on the podium.  Ryan Simmons on Blackhawk took second, Phillip Laby on Godot third, and Ian Charles on Maverick fourth.  Some terrific photos and drone videos of mark-roundings in heavy tide are at in the 2018 StFYC Regattas folder, J-Fest 18 gallery.

Pictures by Chris Ray,


Fleet #1 Admin2018 J/Fest: Tough Tidal Tactics & Time in Room
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Arbitrage Wins 2018 Season Opener

The San Francisco J/105 Fleet is alive and growing with 20 teams on the starting line for each mid-winter race and 25 boats competing this weekend in the St. Francis Yacht Club’s Spring One Design, its opening fleet racing regatta of the 2018 season. This was an uncharacteristically light wind regatta due to little gradient as the Central Valley has not yet heated up.  Despite the resultant light winds and building tides, the race committee managed to pull off three races on Saturday and one on Sunday.

The fleet welcomed returning owners Tim Russell and Ian Charles, both highly experienced skippers who had sold their J/105s a few years ago while attending to growing families.  In the past few months each of them bought a well-prepared used J/105, shipped them to San Francisco, and jumped right into the front row for each race.  Nevertheless, Bruce Stone and Nicole Breault on Arbitrage #116 turned in a consistent score line of 4,2, 3, 3 to win convincingly with a total of 12 points, followed by Tim on Ne*Ne #3 with 20 points and Ian on Maverick #385 with 22 points, with Shannon Ryan and Rolf Kaiser on Donkey Jack #26 in fourth with 27 points.

Photo: Arbitrage #116 leading Donkey Jack #26 and Ne*Ne #3 downwind with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.

Fleet #1 AdminArbitrage Wins 2018 Season Opener
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Good Timin’ Wins 2017 RBBS

Twenty-Four J/105’s came out to do battle in the 2017 Rolex Big Boat Series. We had four days of classic, long course Bay racing under mostly sunny skies and in winds ranging from 12 to 28 knots. Taking the legendary Good Timin’ out of semi-retirement, the Perkins brothers (Chris, John, Phil), Dave Wilson, and the brother-sister duo Melissa Purdy Feagin and Tom Purdy raced an impressively consistent score line to secure the overall win and the coveted Rolex watch. Congratulations Good Timin’!

Regatta results:

AND… Kudos to all of Fleet 1 for a fantastic 2017 season! Numbers are up, competition is fierce, friendships are solid. Big shout out to Blackhawk for hanging on to the Season Championship!

Fleet #1 AdminGood Timin’ Wins 2017 RBBS
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Blackhawk Wins Gusty 2017 Swiftsure Regatta

Ryan Simmon’s and his team on Blackhawk once again took home the top spot on the podium in the highly competitive SF Bay J/105 fleet, this time in the 5 race 2017 Swiftsure Regatta run off the western face of Alcatraz. Saturday’s racing saw a wind prediction on the lighter side in the low to mid-teens but this proved not to be the case. With windward marks to port in the vicinity of Blackaller, and early ebb on shore, the clear early strategy was to get to the City Front. Complicating this, however, was a good deal of sheer in the wind, making the deep left corner less advantageous than higher lanes slightly out from shore where breeze held constant, especially in race 2. By the end of race 2 and then in race 3 the ebb had established itself across the course and the right side of the course came into play. Port-roundings to windward made for exciting offset mark action where gybe setting became a must.  Breeze in race 1 was low to mid-teens building to high teens by race end. Race 2 saw high teens to low 20s and race 3 saw breeze in the mid-twenties gusting to 30 as racing concluded. Arbitrage’s roller furler malfunctioned in the third race so they made for a jarring visual as they took off on a 3-sail hot reach on the first downwind leg, planing at 11-12 kt and separating from the fleet, passing three boats.

Sunday started once again with wind in the low to mid-teens with the same City Front play prevalent on Saturday. Blackhawk entered the last race with a safe cumulative scoring lead of five points over Arbitrage. Historically, this regatta has been a warm-up for Big Boat Series and the race committee kept to that tradition by giving us a 17 nm Bay Tour, adding some jeopardy to Blackhawk’s dominance and, with no throw-outs, Arbitrage was still within striking distance.

Starting at Alcatraz, Arbitrage opted for a pin start with Blackhawk a few rows up the line. Nearly all boats chose to go to the City Front for tide relief before crossing under the Gate and then working up the north shore to Bonita. Blackhawk and Arbitrage mirrored each other up the course out to Pt. Bonita with Blackhawk in the lead followed by Arbitrage, Akula and Jabberwocky.  Some careful positioning with the currents enabled Arbitrage to pass Blackhawk in the last half mile approaching Pt. Bonita, and then they set kites and went high toward Baker Beach for relief from the ebb.  Jibing around the Golden Gate Bridge’s south tower, the fleet then rounded Blackaller and zig-zagged across the Bay, touring Harding and Blossom, up again to Blackaller and then a race deck finish.  Arbitrage lead the whole way, with loose cover over Blackhawk, but then overstood the last windward mark (Blackaller) and had to cede the inside spot to a boat from a different fleet, the mighty Swiftsure II, forcing Arbitrage to round wide and opening the door to Blackhawk. Arbitrage jibed out for fresh air while Blackhawk played the inside.  With very little advantage to either boat Arbitrage was able to pin Blackhawk against the H Beam until they called for sea room.  Arbitrage gybed away for the win by a nose in a near photo finish over Blackhawk, followed by Akula and Jabberwocky.

The final results were Blackhawk with 9 points (3,1,1,2,2), Arbitrage with 13 points (2,3,3,4,1), Akula with 18 points (4,2,6,3,3) and Jabberwocky with 20 points (5,6,4,1,4)

Fleet #1 AdminBlackhawk Wins Gusty 2017 Swiftsure Regatta
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Donkey Jack Runs Away With 2017 SFYC Summer Keel

On Saturday, 21 J105s lined up along with the J111’s, Express 37s, J120s, J70’s and Express 27s to contest the San Francisco Yacht Club’s annual Summer Keel Regatta. The weather over scenic San Francisco Bay was unsettled and the wind models promised sporty conditions for later in the day, with choppy wave state due to a weak early ebb which built throughout the day.

The Olympic Circle venue is famous for sending at least half the fleet in the wrong direction in any race, but the weather gods conspired to balance the sides, with faster boats from the left and right converging at the weather mark within a few boat lengths. Nonetheless Donkey owned the course in the first two races taking two bullets, with Godot and Blackhawk taking a second place each. As wind strength built for race three, Godot found their legs and took the bullet, Donkey took fifth, behind Mojo, Blackhawk and Akula.

Sunday promised lighter conditions, and early flood which kept the chop suppressed in the 15kt to 18kt breeze. Blackhawk banged the left hard and fought Godot and Donkey into second and third places, setting up a commanding lead into the final race. The 1FA boat sealed the deal with a demonstrative bullet, winning the regatta by 5 points from Blackhawk, Godot, Akula and Arbitrage.

Don’t forget to sign up for the upcoming Aldo Alessio regatta on August 19th and 20th weekend.

photo credit:

Fleet #1 AdminDonkey Jack Runs Away With 2017 SFYC Summer Keel
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With Tanker as Pick, Blackhawk Edges Out Arbitrage in Windy 2017 Sausalito YC J/105 Invitational

The Sausalito YC J/105 Invitational on July 22-23 2017 brought 19 J-105’s out of their summer slumber for a weekend of heavy air racing – typical SF Bay summer conditions with winds in high teens and building into the 20’s, with gusts into the mid-30’s on Sunday!

The Race Committee set up the starting area off the west face of Alcatraz and the windward mark toward mid-span of the Golden Gate Bridge.  With a significant flood tide on both days, many boats were doing dip-line starts. The PRO managed to cant the line so that competitors had to make a decision – start at the pin, closer to the relief along the city front, or start 15-20 degrees upwind toward the signal boat and hope that was enough to outweigh the extra time spent in a foul tide. Once the fleet hit the city front the decision was reversed, tack back into the middle of the Bay on lay line, fighting more current, or sail extra distance in the better water. With such a heavily favored side of the course upwind there was a premium on clear lanes and the ability to tack when desired, leaving many boats no choice but to over stand the weather mark.

Conditions Saturday were classic San Francisco summer, 15-25 knot wind with fog rolling in and significant ebb chop in race 3. The finish to race 1 proved to be one of the more exciting and critical moments in the regatta. Arbitrage, Blackhawk and Godot all came into the downwind finish overlapped, slightly above lay-line for the left (pin) end of the line. With the heavy flood tide and breeze near 20 knots, a late decision by Godot caused all three to over-stand and started a chain reaction of them jibing and broaching, leaving the tide to take them across the finish line. Both Arbitrage and Blackhawk protested Godot for not providing room to finish and the protest was scheduled for Thursday. After two more races, Blackhawk held a 3 point lead over Arbitrage and Godot, pending the outcome of the protest.

Sunday brought a repeat of the conditions from Saturday. 15-20 knot breeze with a flood tide for race 1 led to a runaway victory for Arbitrage, with the next boat a half leg back.   The three boats were tied going into the final race, pending the prior day’s protest. At the start of the final race the same decision had to be made, start on the left end of the line and go for current relief, or start at the heavily favored right side. Blackhawk and Godot chose the pin, and Arbitrage the committee end. Soon after the start a tanker came through the fleet. The boats at the pin were able to cross to the relief on the City Front and had a significant advantage over Arbitrage, Advantage and a few others who had to tack back into the flood so as to avoid the tanker. Blackhawk then led around the first weather mark, and with the heavy flood tide and 20-25 knot breeze, the lead quickly built. By the end of the race the wind reached 25-30 knots with gusts into mid-30s, leading to planing conditions downwind and challenging maneuvers for all crews. Blackhawk went on the win the race, with Godot finishing second and Arbitrage a hard earned 6th after being forced to go behind the tanker on the first leg.  Upon discussion after racing, Godot retired from race 1, leaving Blackhawk 4 points ahead of Arbitrage for the regatta victory. The top 5 were rounded out by Donkey Jack in 3rd, Jam Session in 4th and Godot in 5th, beating Hazardous Waste via tie breaker thanks to their victory in race 2. Full results at:

Fleet #1 AdminWith Tanker as Pick, Blackhawk Edges Out Arbitrage in Windy 2017 Sausalito YC J/105 Invitational
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SFYC June Invite Becomes JAM SESSION on the Circle

Winning their first regatta of the season, Adam Spiegel and the crew of Jam Session clinched the SFYC June Invitational with 16 points.  Sailing with Adam were Sydney Green, Ben Pedrick, Chris Tholstrop, Christos Zalidis, Seth Besse and Will Sandford.  Racing was classic circle fare with winds pushing into the 20s at their peak, and the J/105 fleet pushing tactical barriers at times. In fact, a collision between Donkey Jack and Blackhawk resulted in Ryan Simmon’s team borrowing Roxanne (thanks to owner Charles James) on Sunday. Team Blackhawk led the regatta up until the final race but ultimately finished 2nd with 18 points.  Mojo, Jabberwocky and Godot finished close behind with 30, 32 and 37 points respectively. 

Fleet #1 AdminSFYC June Invite Becomes JAM SESSION on the Circle
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Donkey Jack Works the City Front to Take 2017 J/Stop

After 8 races of jam-packed action on the City Front, Rolf Kaiser & Shannon Ryan’s Donkey Jack emerged victorious in the second annual St. Francis YC J/Series Fleet Stop. Having the race course and committee to themselves, J/105 Fleet 1 enjoyed a specially formatted short-course, rapid-fire regatta on May 13-14. Both days, crews swapped war stories right on the docks after sailing, enjoying quality time together and complimentary keg beer. Saluting his teammates – Shannon Ryan, Justin Oberbauer, David Kelly, Doug & Patti Sloan – Rolf Kaiser posted to Facebook, “Nice job this weekend to the Donkey Jack crew!”

For regatta results, go to

Note: Each competitor’s top 5 finishes have been applied to the Series Standings (consequently, please disregard the standalone regatta scores for the event here on the website).

Fleet #1 AdminDonkey Jack Works the City Front to Take 2017 J/Stop
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