by J/Boats Ed
Though many said it couldn't be done, or wasn’t even possible in this year's Swiftsure, such was the forecast. Yet, again J owners have established beyond any reasonable doubt that no matter what weather conditions are tossed at them, the combination of tenacity, experience and a bit of luck yields more than their fair share of silverware for J owners.
J/120 in the 2013 Swiftsure Race
This year's Swiftsure Classic race (the four-in-one event) may well go down in the record books as the single most memorable 'Driftsure' ever. With a record number of drop-outs and DNFs due to insanely challenging conditions, it was a wonder anyone finished. The difficult conditions made this year's event a race 'down the mineshaft' to the insane asylum at the bottom- or was it to avoid having to cope with Alice's issues with the 'Looking Glass' in that famous childhood fable. By late Saturday afternoon the winds went very, very light on the boats racing out the Straits of Juan de Fuca. The light winds, combined with strong adverse tides, made the job of keeping a sailboat moving in the right direction very difficult (if you look at some of the 'tracking' information, you'll note most of the fleet was going backwards quite a bit of the time)!
In those kinds of conditions boats seek out every small puff of wind they can find. With five or six knots of breeze, a puff of 1.5 knots is a 25% increase in power. Finding those little zephyrs is what sends the winners ahead of the pack. On top of the difficulty of finding those zephyrs, is the challenge of keeping the crew motivated, and focused, in very frustrating and boring conditions. Each movement (particularly on a small boat) adversely affects sail trim as the boat rocks.
J/109 in the 2013 Swiftsure Race
The crew must be very still, watch for the puffs, and delicately trim the sails to take advantage of each puff. The helmsmen must steer carefully, because the rudder works like a big brake, dragging through the water. All this after 24 hours of sitting on the deck in wet weather, being cold to the bone, with minimum sleep-- could you do it? Apparently not for a vast majority of the fleet.
Nevertheless, there were some extraordinary performances by J/Teams in the fleet. For starters, the 'big boys' in the
Swiftsure Classic that sail out to the Swiftsure Banks and back, it was John McPhail's J/160 JAM that won the race in class and fleet! They happened to beat some of the best Pacific Northwest big boat offshore teams, including a Santa Cruz 70, Ker 46, Wylie 70 and Santa Cruz 52.
J/160 in the 2013 Swiftsure Race
Then, in the Cape Flattery Race, Lorenzo Migliorini's J/105 Allegro Vivace crushed it, with a first in class, first division and first overall. Without a doubt the toughest class with 59 entrants. Perhaps even more impressive was that fact that the whole race was light air with only five minutes of spinnaker work on a J/105-- yet they were still able to win overall!
In the Juan de Fuca Race, the J/30 Conrad J sailed by Geoffrey Wolf won its class and division and was fourth overall!
Finally, in the Inshore F1 Division, the J/33 Corvo sailed by Tom Kerr managed a fourth in class and the J/35 Intrepid sailed by Bob McClinton sailed to a sixth overall.
Swiftsure Race website