Godot Wins RegattaPro Midwinters

Congratulations to Philip Laby and the Godot team on their win in the Regattapro midwinter series. Jam Session completed the winter events in second place and Charlie Abraham’s Javelin took third.

Fleet #1 AdminGodot Wins RegattaPro Midwinters
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2017 Championship Season Opener March 4th/5th

Ladies and gentlement, it’s time to polish your bottoms and shake out your new rags – on March 4th, the St Francis YC will kick off another exciting season of J105 racing on The Bay with the Spring One Design Regatta. The format is windward/leeward racing on the Cityfront and central bay courses with three races on Saturday and two on Sunday. 
Early in the season many boats are rebuilding their rosters and or looking for pick-up crew members to replace regulars that can’t make it. If you’re crew looking for a ride on March 4th/5th, try posting on the J105 Crewlist. If you’re a boat looking for crew, check out the crewlist, or try here and here for other San Francisco Bay crew resources.
Don’t forget to register before March 1st to avoid the late fee.
Fleet #1 Admin2017 Championship Season Opener March 4th/5th
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Godot Wins 2016 Swiftsure, Continues Lead in Standings

St Francis YC’s Swiftsure Cup on August 20-21, sailed west of Alcatraz on SF Bay, attracted a large crowd of 19 J/105s who viewed it as a great warm-up for the upcoming Rolex Big Boat Series which takes the fleet into similar waters.  With a strong 4 knot max flood and west-southwest winds between 10 and 22 knots, the course favored a long starboard sprint to the city front.   The conditions put a premium on a good start and a beeline approach to the slower moving water, similar to the Sausalito J/105 Invitational Regatta just four weeks prior, so everyone was piling up at the pin end and a few general recalls were the norm.   

Winning overall was Phillip Laby’s GODOT with an amazingly consistent 4-1-2-3-1 record for 11 pts.  Ryan Simmons helmed BLACKHAWK around the race track in good order to take the silver posting 5-5-1-2-3 for 16 pts.  Third was Bruce Stone on ARBITRAGE with a 3-3-5-1-10 for 22 pts, recovering from an over-early in the last race to pass 9 boats and preserve the podium slot by one point over Adam Spiegel’s JAM SESSION who had a 2-4-7-4-6 for 23 pts.  Fifth was Tom Kennelly’s WONDER, also suffering from an over-early in the second race, and posting 6-10-4-5-2, for 27 pts.

Laby attributes Godot’s success to the crew’s clean execution of a successful game plan.  “Going into the event we decided that clear lanes off the start would be especially important.   With the long starboard approach to the city front there would be little opportunity to recover.  The leaders of each race separated quickly and we were successful in finding a good enough lane each race to stay near the front, which led to our consistency.”  

With this win, team Godot heads into Big Boat Series leading the season standings.

Fleet #1 AdminGodot Wins 2016 Swiftsure, Continues Lead in Standings
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Arbitrage Wins 2016 Sausalito Invitational

A regatta report by the winning team. (Also, check out this great article at

SF Bay whipped up a significant flood tide and fearsome 20-27 kt winds to make for a challenging weekend of windward-leeward racing for the 19 J/105s that made it out to the western face of Alcatraz for the Sausalito YC J/105 Invitational, July 23-24, 2016. Unlike racing anywhere in the country, where you need to sail upwind both legs, time the oscillations of the shifts, and take into account a progressive veer or backing of the wind based on forecasts, here it was a case of advance planning. Before leaving home, skipper Bruce Stone reviewed the wind and tide forecast with his team on Arbitrage and announced, “We’re starting at the pin and banging the shore for tide relief upwind, and then jibing out to the bigger flood downwind.”

Well, of course it doesn’t perfectly work like that! We grapple with competitors for solid execution, and sometimes we pursue too much of a good thing. Arbitrage nailed the pin end of the line on the first two starts and led to the shore, winning both races by large margins. On the third try, as shown in the photo below, with heavy traffic at the pin, Arbitrage was forced to set up too low and failed to make the pin, so had to jibe around and start on port, taking the sterns of the peloton and going in the wrong direction away from current relief. “We’ll get some leverage outside in more pressure – no other option.” Heading into the teeth of the flood, they made little progress up the course while the fleet legged over to the shore. At mark one, Arbitrage was in a solid trailing position… ugh. Good boathandling downwind got them past a handful of boats struggling with the blustery afternoon winds. Taking a chance with the outside, seemingly more upwind leeward gate, then tacking right away toward shore helped gain quite a few lengths to windward and more boats. By the end of the race they finished tenth and were still leading the regatta, albeit by just one point.

Sunday brought the same weather and tide, and Arbitrage brought the same strategy. However, at the first start they once again didn’t make the pin and had to jibe out to start on port. Rinse and repeat, taking plenty of sterns and heading the wrong way. This time perhaps the regatta would be lost. Yet this time after tacking on the hip of the fleet heading toward the City Front, they connected with more pressure and right angle while the leaders had lighter air, getting them back into a fighting position by mark one. Grinding up through the fleet, Arbitrage managed a hard fought 2nd place. So for the last race, Stone finally tried a more conservative start in the middle of the line, and with good position and speed earned a solid third to secure the victory, with a score line of 1, 1, 10, 2, and 3, two points ahead of Steve Kent’s team on Perseverance and six points ahead of Philip Laby’s team on Godot. Stone remarked, “It was really special for the J/105 fleet to have a dedicated race course, with our own water and no delays. Sausalito YC did a great job in arranging this for us and dealing with really tough conditions for setting marks. Hospitality in sunny Sausalito was off the charts, with the Commodore pouring free beers for us and offering sandwiches. We’re looking forward to coming back next year.”  


Fleet #1 AdminArbitrage Wins 2016 Sausalito Invitational
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Godot Tops Blackhawk By One at 2016 SFYC June Invite

Beautiful warm sunny weather, with steady 12 to 15 knot breezes, provided sensational conditions on the Berkeley Circle for the 22 boat J/105 fleet, the largest participants in the San Francisco YC’s popular June Invitational.  We sailed five races and as usual there were no throw-outs.
Saturday’s racing showed steady winds with very few notable shifts.  The first race had a south side bias due to late flood/slack current effects and a building Southwest pressure.  Phil Laby and the team on Godot had a good start towards the pin end of the line and headed left towards the port lay-line.  At the first weather mark, Godot crossed behind Steve Kent’s Perseverance but with favorable downwind positioning rounded ahead at the leeward mark, never to look back and taking the win in the first race.
Ryan Simmons’ Blackhawk won races #2 and 3, securing the lead for the day with 5 points.  Godot trailed on the leaderboard with 8 points, partly due to a very late OCS call in the second race. Despite restarting a full minute late (as indicated by the GPS tracker), they managing to claw back to a fifth place finish.  In the last race on Saturday, a fun battle ensued for the lead between Blackhawk and Godot, with Godot coming in second behind a well-sailed Blackhawk, foreshadowing a showdown between them the following day.  Sitting in third for the day was Adam Spiegel’s Jam Session, who were involved in a collision which resulted in an injury to Adam.  Fortunately, Adam and Jam Session were able to continue sailing, and were awarded redress, finishing the day with 12 points.
Sunday had similar conditions to Saturday, though the wind started a little later and came up a little bit stronger.  The first start of the day had 6-8 boats on the pin end of the line being called OCS, including Blackhawk and Arbitrage.  Godot set up more conservatively mid-line and led the race most of the way for the win.  Blackhawk, making a fantastic comeback, managed a fourth, leaving Godot and Blackhawk tied with 10 points going in to the final race of the event, winner takes all.
Godot favored the committee end of the line for the first time all day and capitalized on a second row start by Blackhawk.  Arbitrage started even closer to the committee, and immediately tacked to port, followed by Blackhawk.  Five boat lengths to weather, Godot tacked for a loose cover on Blackhawk.  The three boats raced tightly around the course maintaining that order throughout the race, as Arbitrage led wire-to-wire, with Godot and Blackhawk close behind.
No one waits for Godot this season! The final results revealed Godot at 11 points for the win, Blackhawk second with 12, Jam Session third with 20, followed by Wonder with 25, and Arbitrage with 28.  
Fleet #1 AdminGodot Tops Blackhawk By One at 2016 SFYC June Invite
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J/Stop: A Regatta with a Twist; Consistency Prevails for Team Blackhawk

Twenty-one J/105s competed in the inaugural J/Stop at the St. Francis Yacht Club on May 14-15, 2016. While it certainly was another great weekend of tight racing, regatta organizer Bruce Stone explains that this was a regatta with a twist. Stone, our past national fleet president and owner of Arbitrage #116, provides us with this report:

We decided to implement a couple of different elements into the J/Stop Regatta. We had more racing with shorter courses so there could be more action for skippers and crews. We also had a lower entry fee because we kept the socials simple with just a keg on the dock instead of a catered event inside the Club. We tried out a similar format a few years ago at the Wickford Yacht Club in Rhode Island, with nine races, and it was a major success. Several J/105 owners told us it was the best weekend of racing they had ever had.

While we usually have five races on the weekend, StFYC Race Committee and PRO John Callahan agreed to try and run eight races. John set all three fleets up with the same long beat so the J/105s could get some separation going into the windward mark. He also set two leeward gates so the downwind leg and the second upwind beat were shorter for the 105s than the 111s and 120s. The 105s were rarely mixing it up with the other fleets which was just fine, as there was always plenty of action among ourselves at the windward and leeward marks.

The ebb was stronger in the middle of SF Bay, so the Race Committee favored the shore-side pin end of the line by a little more than 10 degrees to attract some customers, and in a few races the winning move was to start at the pin, flop immediately to port and cross the fleet. That move was well executed by Phil Laby’s team on Godot, #44, who won three races and finished second. Arbitrage won two races by starting at the other end, at the committee boat, and tacking to port to foot out to the strong mid-bay ebb. Ryan Simmons’ Blackhawk, #40, took fewer risks, was almost always on the starting line with speed, and won the regatta without actually winning a single race. Tom Kennelly’s Wonder, #266, turned in a strong last day with a bullet on the final race to move up to third, edging out Arbitrage.

Back at the docks, teams intermingled, blenders appeared on several boats, and competitors reported how wonderful it was to get to match up faces with boats. With a low entry fee of just $80, or $10 per race, our expectation is that this less formal format will be tried again.

StFYC regatta results HERE

Click HERE for StFYC regatta photos. Click HERE for more Chris Ray photos


Fleet #1 AdminJ/Stop: A Regatta with a Twist; Consistency Prevails for Team Blackhawk
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Godot & Advantage3 Top 2016 J/Fest Fleet

A write-up by Phillip Laby with contributions by Toné Chin and Pat Benedict

J/Fest was held April 16-17 with a strong fleet showing of twenty-five J105’s, the best this year and especially good for a mid-season event.  With strong midday ebb transitioning into early flood later in the day, and with light breezes predicted, a premium could be expected on good starts, working the currents, and finding lanes for breeze.

Saturday’s start was postponed several hours and the fleet watched from the St. Francis Yacht Club (largely in summer attire) as the Lightship race drifted through their starts, struggled to avoid obstructions, and made due with a light easterly wind or otherwise were induced by the strong ebb out the gate.  At about noon a westerly finally appeared building to around 10-15 knots for the rest of the day.

In the first race stronger ebb out in the bay favored several boats starting at the committee boat and who tacked immediately to port.  Arbitrage nailed the start at the committee and tacked out first, followed by Advantage3, then Jabberwocky, Godot, and Wonder with the rest of the fleet following suit.  The ebb made for a fast beat and Godot’s strategy called for an earlier tack shy of the lay line to avoid the possibility of over-standing.  However, those that continued farther (Arbitrage and Advantage3) gained additional lengths by the weather mark.  The fleet tightened heading downwind along the relief on the beach.  Godot sailed below a group on starboard and jibed shy of the beach, finding more wind off shore and moved into 4th. After one more loop, featuring some close jibes between leaders Arbitrage and Advantage3, the latter got its bow out at the finish line to earn the bullet. Wonder found the boat side favored to finish just ahead of Godot for the 3rd spot.

Simon Bell, tactician aboard Advantage3, had this to say of the exciting finish in race one: “Being overlapped with Arbitrage at the finish line… with both spinnakers pulling, the crew really pumped up, and winning less than 2 seconds ahead will be unforgettable!”

For the second race, the starting line was set significantly port side or pin favored to attract some starters from just ganging up at the race committee and heading out into the remaining ebb.  Godot decided to set up a third back from the pin end for a position to quickly tack after the start.  A header occurred during the final moments allowing for an easy execution of this tack at the gun.  Recounted Toné Chin on the bow of Godot, “With my keen eyes, I waved the skipper to go full speed… this allowed us to take full advantage of the skewed line.  At the gun, we flopped over to port and managed to clear the whole fleet.”  A drag race ensued with 007, the pin boat off the line that also crossed on port, to the right corner of the course.  Towards the top of the course 007 crossed close ahead of Godot several times.  The early flood had already begun at the mark and Godot managed to arrive first, closely followed by 007, both several lengths ahead of the next boat. Godot led the rest of the way, playing the shifting current and wind at the top of the next beat that offered the fleet passing opportunities.  At the finish line Godot was followed by Roxanne, Jam Session, Advantage3, and Blackhawk.

Sunday’s racing was canceled with the absence of breeze. In the end, Godot scored the win followed by Advantage3 in a tie breaker, both with 5 points.  The next three spots were filled by Roxanne, Arbitrage, and Blackhawk, respectively, in a three way tie breaker with 12 points each.

The skipper of Advantage3, Pat Benedict, acknowledged outstanding crew work as integral to his success. At one leeward gate rounding, he was amazed that his team was “able to jibe, pull out the jib, do a leeward take down, and round the mark within 4 boat lengths of the starboard buoy.”  

Someone on the pointy end of Godot remarked, “There was some amazing work done by the foredeck team of Patrick Haywood (pit), Matt Skafel (mast), and Toné (bowman extraordinaire). The trimmers Drew Cannon (spinnaker) and Will Lowe (main) also did some good work, and the driving by Phillip Laby was… okay.” Then added, “This crew has been racing together for only five days, so we’re happy with the results so far… we’ll keep working on Phillip!”

Fleet #1 AdminGodot & Advantage3 Top 2016 J/Fest Fleet
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2016 Resin Regatta: Blackhawk Tops Rumble on Circle

Great write-up by winning skipper Ryan Simmons:

Gorgeous weather was welcome for the second regatta of the season. Down on the Circle, after a significant postponement on Saturday, winds filled to 17 knots with flat water and very steady direction for ideal racing conditions. Racing was tight and contested at every mark rounding with many races having the top 7-8 boats finishing within seconds of each other. Such a close, competitive fleet placed a premium on tactics and boat handling.

At the end of the day Blackhawk was sitting with a 2-point lead over Godot and a 3-point lead over Arbitrage, putting those three a step ahead of the rest of the pack with 2 races to go on Sunday. With 23 boats racing it was still anyone’s regatta. Each of the top 3 won a race on Saturday, earning us all famous SFYC MaiTais!

Sunday we were treated to breeze right away, conditions started around 10-12 knots with a building ebb tide. After 2 general recalls and a 20% Z-flag penalty distributed to multiple undisclosed boats, we finally got the first race off. Donkey Jack won the race handily, and after a very close pass on the final downwind leg, Arbitrage, Godot and Blackhawk finished 2,3,4… Setting up a virtual tie between the 3 leaders going into the final race.

The 5th and final race was a short upwind-downwind-upwind in variable 12-17 knots. Rounding the first weather mark Arbitrage came in on the port layline and fouled 2nd place Donkey Jack. In an effort to clear themselves to complete their 720, they held out Donkey Jack and Blackhawk for a few boat lengths, allowing 4th-6th place boats to slide inside at the offset. Once set, there was a 5 boat drag race running downwind, with Godot positioned on the inside of the pack and Blackhawk on the outside. Godot chose to gybe first and trend middle/left on the leg, Blackhawk hung it out to the far right of the course. Upon reaching the leeward gate Blackhawk rounded the left gate in first with Godot one boat length behind, while simultaneously Donkey Jack and Wonder rounded the right gate and prepared for the final sprint upwind.

We actively try not to get too caught up focusing on or covering single boats when fleet racing, but when the entire regatta comes down to a final beat and the only boat that can challenge for the victory is 10 seconds behind you, tactics change. While the rest of the fleet raced to finish, Godot and Blackhawk engaged in a match race up the middle of the course. Despite Godot’s multiple efforts to clear and an attempt to set up a pick, Blackhawk was able to cover all the way to the finish, taking 2nd place in the race and winning the regatta. Donkey Jack won the race, finishing the regatta strong with a 1,1 on Sunday… Snake-eyes and a round of MaiTais for that crew, Heehaw!

Final results: Blackhawk finished with 12 points, Godot 15 points, Donkey Jack edged Wonder on the tie breaker for 3rd with 22 points, and Arbitrage finished 5th with 26 points. It was a very exciting weekend of racing with close boat on boat situations and tight racing from start to finish. See you all out there again for J/Fest!

Fleet #1 Admin2016 Resin Regatta: Blackhawk Tops Rumble on Circle
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