J29s Look out for No. 3

8 Dec

Interested members of the J29 class assembled in the Commodore’s Room at the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron for the 2013 AGM on December 7 (Happy Pearl Harbour Day). Representatives from Silver Woman, Paradigm Shift, J-Zeus II9, Colmonell, Foxfire, and Satisfaction all contributed. I don’t have the minutes yet but it was only yesterday so the key stuff is more or less in my memory. It includes a new President, a new schedule, and a new sailcard.

The new President is India Morrison, who is a co-owner of Foxfire. She is our first female President and, I believe, our youngest President ever (certainly younger that I was when I was President). India replaces the outgoing Matt Christie. Scott Christie remains as Treasurer.

The past year was a bit of a tough one. We have fought off a down cycle for a few years but it bit in 2013. Our shortened four-regatta schedule did not excite and regatta attendance was down across the board. Competition was fortunately good and we did start to see some new blood with Foxfire and Painkiller getting out for regattas and showing they can compete.

After some discussion, we decided to go back to a five-regatta program with four to count. The designated regattas will be the RNSYS Opener, Charlottetown Race Week, Lunenburg One Design, Chester Race Week, and BBYC Labour Day. Those who have been around will recognize that the first four events are traditional fixtures on the schedule. BBYC Labour Day goes into a slot that used to be occupied by the Fall One Design at the Squadron.

The date of the Fall One Design got moved too many times and it waned until we dropped it this past year despite have a wildly windblown six-boat spectacular impromptuly held in late October after several early misfires. BBYC Labour Day takes advantage of an established regatta date and fun event. Weather is often good in Nova Scotia on the Labour Day Weekend. It’s well enough separated from Chester Race Week for folks to move boats but it does create a concentration of events through which sailors can get their boats tuned up and their crew work ironed out. If anyone want to come to Nova Scotia for a month can get in a lot of good J29 racing with the potential for, say, 25 competitive one design races over the period.

We have discussed designating BBYC as this year’s North Americans. The Bedford Basin is a good sailing area that has hosted Canadian Olympic Trials and world championships. It’s arguably more accessible to sailors from outside the Atlantic region than any other club we could designate and there’s a crane for launching and hauling. Matt Christie also indicated that improvements have been made to club docks that should make it ideal to accommodate a fleet of 29s. Some details will have to be worked out but it would make for an interesting season-ender if we can iron out the details.

The decision on our sail card is even bigger, though, and could have a significant influence on the style of sailing in Atlantic J29s. After several years of discussing the possibility, class members voted to do away with overlapping genoas in designated Atlantic J29 Regattas. The expectation is that all boats will sail exclusively with the turbo or jumbo jib introduced several years ago by Scotch Mist IV. The jibs have certainly been effective in higher winds and have been used out of necessity or experimentally in lower wind ranges. J-Zeus II9 won two races with Erik Koppernaes steering in shifty 10 knot conditions in the Squadron One Design two years ago after we tore or genoa and Paradigm Shift sailed jumbo in nearly all conditions during the past season. Doug Matthew’s reported at the AGM that they found there was surprisingly little impact on speed in very light air and it is probably everyone’s experience that the boat will tack considerably more quickly in all conditions.

The decision should also save class members money. Jumbo jibs cost less than genoas and will definitely last longer without the flogging that genoas receive through each tack. We also expect that it will reduce the requirement for crew, which has been a critical issue for many class members over the years. With a jib, the grinder and tailer can be a bit smaller people and a crew of about six should be sufficient to sail the boat in most conditions. Genoas will continue to be useable in PHRF events.

Other classes have made similar changes. Bluenoses, which switched from an overlapping genoa to a jib in the 1980s are an obvious local example. With the jib it became considerably easier to see out of the boat and sailing became much more tactical. It hasn’t hurt Bluenoses one bit as class events continue to routinely draw 20 or more boats and the value of the boats has risen substantially.

For us, it’s an experiment we can go back on if our boats become boring. We’ll still have genoas in 2015 if we change our minds. We also agreed that we can pull the big sails out of the bag if there is an interest from J29 sailors from outside our region in competing in this years North Americans.

The meeting closed with a report on our financial status from Treasurer Scott Christie. In short, we have $2,050 in the bank, which is a good war chest. We, however, generated a $200 deficit this year, largely thanks to a couple of regatta participants who did not pay their $100 class dues. The dues are not a lot and, although we our program is not particularly complex, we do need money for some of our initiatives. If any of our readers knows they are behind on their dues, please get in touch with Scott.

We left the meeting with a fair number of loose ends concerning the regattas on our schedule, the designation of the North Americans, and a proper description of our revised sail card. India will have a bit of work to do on regattas and Andrew Childs indicated that he will revise our rules for sails. We all agreed that a meeting will be beneficial in spring to finalize things and get ready for a successful 2014 season.

Racing Round-up

8 Dec

I’ve been lazy about this blog for a while now. My last post was in August when the J29 season effectively ended with Chester Race Week. We had a lot of fun being slapped around by Andrew Childs in the Squadron’s final Wednesday Night Series and had a bit of frustration in the Turkey Bowl when the Race Committee lengthened the course in mid-race and we misheard it on our VHF, taking ourselves and radio-less second placer Hummin (Bll Haliburton’s E22) out of the picture. The winner was Alex Simpson in the J24 Barely Legal.

More significantly on the J24 side, Johnny Whynacht and the crew of Sticky Fingers went south to Portland, Maine, and beat 32 other boats to take the Down East Regatta. There was also a J24 Worlds Qualifier in October when I was in Florida. I don’t have many details about it other than the results, which show that Greg Blunden edged Ted Murphy. There’s a nice picture as well as results on the Atlantic J24 Facebook page but that’s all I’ve got. The 2014 Worlds begin on September 20-26, 2014 at Sail Newport / Ida Lewis Yacht Club in Newport, RI . Lots of time for Greg to prepare.

Silver Bullets

31 Aug

Chester Race Week enjoyed particularly good weather this year, with moderate fog, pleasant sun, one day of strong winds and two days of medium breeze, and one light air day that required us all to sit around for a while. As usual Chester Yacht Club put on a great social program with dances and the lot.  As well, this year’s event attracted J designer Rod Johnstone, who gave at least a couple of interviews to the media that I read in the paper or listened to on the radio. He also gave a bit of a talk in the club one morning, which I sadly missed because I have a day job and a crew to herd.

As usually, there were plenty of J boats out there sailing one design and winning PHRF races.  Notable accomplishments included Johnstone’s second in the Alpha fleet in the J35 J’ai Tu, and Scott Covey’s win in hiis J29 Rumble Fish in the Delta 1 Fleet (whatever than is). Scott won with three seconds but it was sad to see three 29s sailing time trials when they could have added to the J29 one design competition.

The one design fleets were, of course, J boat stalwarts, the J24s with eight competitors and the J29s with six. They award our prizes at the end of the very long prize giving that Race Week requires. We sailed nearly four times as many races. Enough said.

J24

I don’t  have a great deal to say about J24s these days. They have a lot of good sailors but I haven’t sailed in the class lately. Clearly the best in Chester was Peter Wickwire. He has a Canadian Championship to his name so I know he’s good. He also won five of eleven races in Chester, which reinforces it. He got a good fight, though, from young stalwarts Ted Murphy in Juvenile Delinquent and Greg Blunden in Adrenaline Rush, who, respectively, came in three and six points behind Peter. Detailed results are here.

J29

Chester Race followed closely on the Lunenburg One Design, which of course it does every year. The short breather in between didn’t slow Andrew Childs one bit. He racked up firsts even more routinely than in the North Americans eventually compiling eight of eleven races to win in a walk (See results here). 

As in the North Americans, the excitement went down between the boats behind as Colmonell, J-Zeus II9, and Paradigm Shift were clustered closely going into the last day. On J-Zeus II9 we brought in Erik Koppernaes for a final day upgrade but as we entered the last race needed to win and, we thought, have Colmonell finish fifth for us to make it into second. I was confident Erik could win but I was much more uncertain about Colmonell finishing fifth since they would have to be beaten by Painkiller, who steadily improved throughout the regatta but after ten races had not once finished ahead of Colmonell.

As things transpired, J-Zeus and Silver Woman had a nice two-way battle for the lead that J-Zeus won for keeps on the second upwind leg. In the mean time, lo and behold, Painkiller put together an excellent race to hold third. The tougher match was between Paradigm Shift and Colmonell who clawed at each other for the better part of four legs until they coasted to the finish not more than feet apart. The whistles for the two boats as they crossed the line were separated by no more time than I imagine it took the Race Officer to inhale but from our angle by the finish line we were confident Shift had done the job and handed us a miracle. As it happened, they actually hadn’t but an earlier close finish in Race 9 that we thought had gone to Colmonell turned out to be in favour of Shift meaning that we actually only needed Colmonell to come in fourth, which they had.

As a result, Silver Woman won, although Andrew has to lose a few so that I can actually write something about him; J-Zeus II9 came second, and Colmonell helmed by Matt Christie came in third. Our compliments to Brian Todd who ran excellent races for us throughout the event in variable winds that were frequently very challenging. Two races late on Monday and good windward legs on a very swingy heavy air day on Tuesday were especially notable.

North Americans Go Down

31 Aug

Last year’s edition of the North Americans was a great success at Lunenburg Yacht Club. We got 14 boats and some of the best competition I expect the class has ever seen. It was so good we thought we’d just do it again for 2013. Unfortunately, our registration for 2013 did not compare well with 2012. The competition, however, did.

The winner this year and the new champion of lands above the Isthmus of Panama is Andrew Childs. Andrew, who knows a bit about North American championships from his Laser days, beat the second, third, sixth, and eighth place finishers from last year’s event (he was a close fourth himself) to gain the coveted title this year. Andrew kicked off with three consecutive bullets and stayed solid and consistent the rest of the way to lock things up comfortably by three points over Jim Mason’s Satisfaction, which was helmed by Evan Petley-Jones.

Although Andrew was the clear leader throughout, the competition among the top four was tough throughout. Satisfaction had a chance until the last race was over and my J-Zeus had a crack if we could win the final three races on Sunday, which we put a fair effort into. The result, in any case, was a spectacular final race finish. By that point, as noted, Satisfaction had a remote chance of winning and J-Zeus had a slightly better chance of nipping Satisfaction for second.

J-Zeus held a comfortable lead on the last leg of the final race with Satisfaction in second and Silver Woman in third. On the final port tack hitch to the finish, J-Zeus stood a comfortable distance in front of Satisfaction which controlled Silver Woman to leeward. In the interest of moving Satisfaction back, we set up as much bad air as we could in front of her.  In the mean time, Colmonell, which played the right hand side of the course picked up a starboard tack lift and began to close on the favoured pin end of the line with Satisfaction. By that time we were finished in J-Zeus and got to watch as Colmonell chose to hold Satisfaction, which was slightly above the pin, on starboard. Satisfaction, apparently surprised by the appearance of Colmonell tacked underneath her and looked to be done Colmonell, which was slightly above the line, tacked inside her to come back. Lo and behold though, Colmonell hit the pin and had to re-round letting Satisfaction in for third. Silver Woman slipped in for second and but for Colmonell’s slip, J-Zeus would have gotten the second spot. The ultimate consequence, though, was to keep the order of finish after seven races exactly the same as it had been after six. It was, however, an interesting thing to watch, including Paradigm Shift’s near move into third as Satisfaction and Colmonell threw in their extra tacks.

 All in all, competition was close with everyone having their moments but no one come close to Silver Woman’s consistency.

Owner

Boat

R1

R2

R3

R4

R5

R6

R7

Tot

Childs
Silver
Woman

1

1

1

-3

3

2

2

13/10

Mason Satisfaction

3

2

3

1

-4

1

3

17/13

Heseltine J-Zeus II9

2

-7

4

2

1

4

1

21/14

Christie Colmonell

-5

3

2

4

2

3

4

23/18

Matthews

Williams

Paradigm
Shift

4

4

-6

5

5

6

5

35/29

Morrison Fox Fire

-6

5

5

6

6

5

6

39/33

Dsq

Weighting for the NAs

5 Aug

Race organizers have confirmed that there will be no weigh in for this year’s North American Championship. The event will be sailed under North Atlantic Class Rules, which include the requirement for outboards to be left in place on the stern of competing boats throughout all races.

Based on email from PRO Andreas Josenhans, August 6, 2012

Its only five days to the second North American J29 Championship to be held at Lunenburg Yacht Club. We have the same excellent Race Committee lined up as managed last year’s terrific event and the same beautiful site. It took a little bit more effort than last year to get it all lined up but I see no reason to expect anything less on the water or in terms of LYC’s hospitality.  To the extent anyone can trust a seven-day forecast, the coming weekend looks good with a bit of rain on Saturday and a nice sunny Sunday.

I’m expecting to see Colmonell, Foxfire, Satisfaction, and Silver Woman, join us in J-Zeus II9, from Halifax. I’m also expecting Paradigm Shift to show up from LYC. I’m not involved in the organizing this time but I also have hopes for Scotch Mist IV  from Lunenburg and Favoured Child from Halifax, and maybe J2K and/or Jaeger from Charlottetown. The event isn’t likely to match last year’s entry (where are you Matt Stokes?) but I don’t think it’s out of the question to expect ten on Saturday.

A few things have been left hanging, however, and it upsets me a bit. For last year’s North Americans we had a crew weight limit of 1,600 lbs and allowed boats to remove their outboard engines because that’s the way they do it on Long Island. This year it appears we’ll be playing by North Atlantic rules, which include no weight limit and require outboards to be kept on the stern where they can make port-starboard crossings that much more interesting.

I’m saying this because the Sailing Instructions don’t address either topic. JZII9 will assume the default but it is a bit of confusion and its a pity the administration hasn’t addressed the issue in writing in the interest of allowing us all to prepare effectively. We’re in a down year for J29s but I’m not seeing any other keelboat class in the Atlantic region that offers remotely comparable competition. There’s no reason why our championship shouldn’t be top notch event it was last year and help us to continue to rebuild with the  younger owners that have started to move in.

Treasure Island

5 Aug

I wrote a post about going to Prince Edward Island for Charlottetown Race Week a couple of weeks ago. I intended to write a second part about what happened at Race Week right after that but the job I am paid for intervened.  Fortunately, though, we are enjoying a long weekend now for the celebration of the birth of Halifax in 1749, which affords me an opportuntiy to catch up.

Casting my mind back, Race Week was a considerably happier event for J-Zeusers than the journey we went through to get there. First of all, Charlottetown is a truly beautiful community and Charlottetown Yacht Club is a great club that offers tremendous support to participants in their flagship regatta. Second, the racing was generally kind to JZII9 , despite equipment carnage that seemed like a carry over from our bumpy trip from Halifax.

The J29 event in Charlottetown attracted six boats. In addition to JZII9, Colmonell and Satisfaction travelled up the highway with considerably less difficulty. The home club contributed J2K, which we have seen for many years, Georgia Girl, and, the current North American champion boat Jaeger, which is now in the hands of Charlottetownian Russell Compton. While Russell is working up a new crew for Jaeger, which he bought from its long-time owner Larry Creaser shortly after the NAs, the rest are all experienced crews, who have been sailing 29s for many years.

As much as I’d like to build suspense, the regatta was straightforward. After the first race in which we placed our spinnaker under the boat as we approached the first leeward mark in first place and, thereby, fell to third, J-Zeus II9 knocked down two firsts and a second to take a solid lead over Colmonell and Satisfaction.  The second day blew hard with gusts probably into the 30 kts range. My memory is not 100 per cent but it seems to me it was the second race of the day in which we broke our outhaul but managed to repair it and come back to finish third (I know it says second in the results, which were copied from the CRW site, but we finished behind Georgia Girl  without question).  Despite two wins by Colmonell, we managed to hold onto our lead. When we finished up on day 3 with a pair of bullets it was over and done.  A nice sail change from jib to genoa by crack JZII9 foredeck crew Stuart Kennedy and Mike Vavra,  near the end of the first downwind leg is worth mentioning, allowing us to pass Colmonell on the last upwind to finish in style.

The Nova Scotia boats dominated the final results with J-Zeus II9 in first, Colmonell in second, and Satisfaction third. JZII9 not only topped the 29s but was also designated overall regatta winner.  Thanks to the generosity of Race Week sponsors, we hauled off four gift certificates worth $1,175, an acrylic painting of J29s sailing, a lighthouse picture frame, lighthouse bookends, and a lighthouse clock, as well as a pennant proclaiming us Race Week Champions, which now has a prominent place in the family trophy cabinet.  Our truck also ran out of gas before we could get out of Charlottetown.

 Boat 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 TOT Net
J-Zeus II9 -3 1 1 2 2 1 3 1 1 15 12
Colmonell 2 2 -5 1 5 3 1 3 2 24 19
Satisfaction 1 3 -4 4 4 2 2 2 3 25 21
J2K -5 5 2 3 1 4 5 5 5 35 30
Georgia Girl 4 4 3 -6 3 5 4 4 4 37 31
Jaeger 7 7 7 5 6 6 6 6 6 56 49

Goin’ Down the Road

5 Aug

The second counting regatta on the four-event J29 calendar this year was Charlottetown Race Week. Now that all four regattas now count toward the J29 Season Championship all boats interested in the champion have to go down the road in one direction or the other if they want to compete.

Most Islanders, of course, are used to road trips to Nova Scotia. The former Dog Party came our way more or less annually and J2K only slightly less. Red Boat/Georgia Girl has also made many trips. Nova Scotia boats have matched them pretty well with Scotch Mist IV going to Charlottetown from Lunenburg for years, more often than not accompanied by the equally competitive Jaeger. Satisfaction has also gone often as has Silver Woman, since Andrew Childs acquired her. My J-Zeus II9, however, has never been on a road trip and before this year had never touched her bottom to the warm waters of Northumberland Strait.

The main reason is that I don’t own a road worthy trailer  but do have a chronic terror of driving with one of the darn things dragging behind me (don’t even talk about backing one up!). This year, however, we feel we have a chance to be champs and Andrew Childs decided to leave Silver Woman on an arm of the Atlantic Ocean and give his trailer to us.

The "14 Large" was my vehicle of choice for our trip to the Garden of the Gulf

The “14 Large” was my vehicle of choice for our trip to the Garden of the Gulf

It’s a terrific trailer but I won’t soon be using it again. Since I am not keen on using an underrated vehicle or an illicit hitch to haul my boat, I decided to rent a six-wheel cube van from U-Haul. U-Haul is the only company that I am aware of that will rent a truck with a hitch and acknowledge that you are probably going to use it. The smallest vehicle they rent rated to  haul 10,000 lbs is a six-wheel cube van, which happens to also offer plenty of space for storing sails as well as the occasional nap after arrival at the regatta.

What I didn’t know (I did mention I’m not into trailers) is that a six-wheel vehicle  hauling a boat is — in the eyes of Nova Scotia Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal — a full-blown truck. What that means, by the way, is that it can’t skate by scales where it is subject to the scrutiny of experts who know all 32 requirements applicable to tow vehicles in our fair province. In case you haven’t had the experience, I am not making up the 32 points because they are available in a convenient 4-page document that you can get from a friendly Provincial scale operator. I got mine from a very pleasant scale professional stationed in Enfield, Nova Scotia, about 30 minutes outside of Halifax.

I don’t remember them all but it will come as no surprise that a J29 is considered a wide load in Nova Scotia (8 feet 6 inches is the maximum) as well as a tall one. If you have a wide load or a high load, by the way, you need an “over dimension” permit. They are not expensive (starting at $32 but going up depending on how over dimension your load is) but invoke a bunch of related requirements including a light located on the tow vehicle that is visible in all directions and reflective wide load signs facing forward and back. You also need straps (not ropes) spaced no more than 10 feet apart with white tags attesting to their load bearing capacity. If however you are short a strap, you better have a ladder available because the folks charged with keeping our highways safe are not about to have anyone clambering 10 feet in the air in violation of our world class occupational health and safety legislation.

I don’t really have any trouble with any of this. After all, I went to some pains to get a truck big enough to haul my boat properly with appropriate insurance and the rest of the nine yards. It is, however, aggravating to have to get all this gear after you’ve started your trip, when you have to be in Charlottetown before sunset, and without any assurance that buying them all will get you the coveted ticket out of Dodge. My co-driver, Ray MacKenzie, nevertheless, set about getting it all, well aware that was just as necessary to turnaround and go back to the Northwest Arm as it was to forging onto Charlottetown.

Through the miracles that are Princess Auto and Parts for Trucks the necessary stuff is thankfully available. Furthermore, if you are like Ray and enjoy involving everyone else in your angst (not like me who prefers to hide his private shame), you can get a lot of help. The folks in these stores will get you what you need and give you a discount when they can. They’ll also give you advice and, if you really squawk, as I did when I was told each reflective wide load banner would cost me $179 at Parts for Trucks even without the panel of wood necessary to support them, they will bend over backwards. In that case, they told Ray to call contractor A. W. Leil, which he did. After hearing our story, the good folks at Leil actually gave us two great quality signs for the week at no charge at all. A. W. Leil,, by the way, rents cranes, which boat owners need from time to time and I would like to give them a huge shout out: they are good people, who deserve our business. Same for Princess Auto and Parts for Trucks by the Way.

After borrowing a ladder from our driver, Erik Koppernaes, who was still home, and getting Erik to attach our flashing light securely to our aluminum roof (they are magnetized but a sailmaker has lots of sticky stuff around to attach one to a non-magnetic surface), we were back on our way to the scales for what I expected would be a military-style inspection of our efforts. After getting back to the scales following a quick detour to a nearby truck stop to get a truck driver’s log book, which we had been told we would have to maintain,  the Provincial civil service began to slowly remove its hefty boot from our figurative neck. We had been communicating with the Registry of Motor Vehicles about the needed permit but response had been slow. Some polite talk, however, began to free that log jam and when the permit finally arrived, the scale operator, who I was getting to quite like, filled out the whole thing for me. He then came out and looked at our light, our D signs, and our straps, and said to go ahead, as soon as he gave me a little lesson in how to fill out a commercial truck driver’s log book. 

That, by the way, disabused me of any notions of truck driving as a free and easy route to satisfy an unspecific wanderlust. They have to account for everything. As a consultant I have to keep a timesheet when I’m working but these guys have to provide an account of what they are up to when they not working, lest they should be gallivanting somewhere as opposed to getting their prescribed rest. 

The rest of the trip, as I like to say, was cake. Another $100 for permits once we got onto PEI but that was  it. On the way back, we ran out of gas as we were leaving Charlottetown. U-Haul gas gauges apparently mean E when they read 1/8th full. For that we got bailed out by a very nice couple who drove me to the gas station and back, and further reinforced my belief in the goodness of humankind, especially in the Maritimes.

The truck ran OK, although you could feel that damn boat back there to say the least. I wouldn’t want to operate it in a rain storm let alone a snow storm.   I’ve also come to the conclusion that there is no truly legal way for an amateur like me to tow a boat like a J29 on our highways. I am not a commercial truck driver, notwithstanding my well-kept log book, and I don’t have the background or inclination to become one. My next trip to Charlottetown might be on a flatbed but is more likely to be by water. I think it would be a two-day trip from Halifax and while it might be a bit of an adventure it won’t be the bureaucratic aggravation that our highways provide.