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!”