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Key West Race Week - Classic, tactical day for J/70 fleet

by J/Boats on 24 Jan 2013
2013 Key West Race Week - J70s Tim Wilkes ©
This year's Key West Race Week may be one for the history books, with epic wind conditions forecast for the rest of the week- winds ranging from 15-25 kts with partly cloudy days- the sailors will be challenged with getting in a full complement of 10-12 races, depending on their fleets, for the entire week of sailing.

Tuesday's racing saw shifty, streaky NNE winds in the 12-18 knot range. For most courses, it was yet another classic tactical day on the azure blue Caribbean-like waters off Key West. With the wind direction moving over a range of 25 degrees with a mean of 15 degrees, the teams had to figure out the cycling of the wind direction and try to stay in phase. For the most part, those who favored the left side of the course and made it work more often than not led their fleets. On rare occasions could boats go to the right and make it work.

After the long day of racing of three races, there were a lot of weary bones, aching muscles and exhausted bodies over at The Galleon Dock and Truman Annex on Tuesday afternoon. The J/70 sailors especially so since they had sailed three races and didn't get into the docks at the end of the day until 1630 hrs! Advil, beer and massages were the order of the day to keep bodies race-tuned and on the knife-edge of preparedness for an even windier day on Wednesday-- forecast to be the windiest day of the week with 18-25 kts winds out of the northeast.

J/70 is the largest class in the regatta with a whopping 38 boats and features several top-notch sailmakers such as Kerry Klingler, Tim Healy and Dave Ullman. However, an upstart team of recent college graduates is leading the fleet after two days and five races. Brothers Cole and James Allsopp grew up sailing together before heading off to College of Charleston and the Naval Academy, respectively. Cole is driving while James is handling the bow aboard Moxie, which closed with a fourth and third on Tuesday to overtake Ullman, the day one leader.

'I can’t say enough about the crew work. I’m not starting very well, but those guys are bailing me out,' said Cole Allsopp, who has former College of Charleston teammates Zeke Horowitz and Brendan Healy aboard as tactician and trimmer. 'Brendan is really dialed in on making the boat go fast, Zeke has been putting us in the right places while James does an amazing job of trimming the chute.' Cole Allsopp said Moxie was among the last boats to come off the start line in Race 5, but managed to fight through the fleet to third place. 'We are catching boats around the corners and passing boats all around the track,' he said.

In fact, the J/70s were planing for most of the races downwind, playing fast gybe-angles downwind, hitting upwards of 13+ kts in the 12-18 kts winds-- those who could figure out 'plane mode' versus 'soak mode' were making big gains on the race track, including the Allsopp boys on Moxie. As a result, the standings for the 70s were also changing significantly. The Allsopp boys on Moxie have now posted a 5-10-14-4-3 scoreline for 36 pts followed by yesterday's race leader, Dave Ullman and Joe Colling's team on USA 69, with a 2-2-15-11-13 record for 43 pts. They're just in front of Tim Healey's Helly Hansen team that has rapidly ascended the ladder to leap into third place with the best day's results, now counting a 23-14-3-3-1 for 44 pts. Just behind them are Peter Duncan and Juddie Smith on Relative Obscurity with a 19-6-7-9-5 score for 46 pts in fourth place and rounding out the top five is Bennet greenwald's team sailing Perseverance from San Diego, CA with a 14-24-10-2-6 for 56 pts.

On the Division 3 course, both PHRF A and PHRF B fleets were having excellent racing. The J/122 Teamwork posted two bullets and two seconds in building a four-point lead in PHRF 1. Skipper Robin Team only does three regattas per year, but always has his J/122 well prepared and sailed by a well-oiled team. 'We’re fast and the crew work has been impeccable. We’re going really well both upwind and downwind,' said Teamwork tactician Jonathan Bartlett, a North Sails pro. 'Robin is quite amazing for someone who doesn’t get a lot of practice with starts and mark roundings. He’s just incredibly skilled considering the small amount of time he races.' Behind them is Jim Bishop's J/44 White Gold in second with a 3-1-5-1 for 10 pts and third is Bob Hesse's J/111 Lake Effect with a 2-3-2-4 for 11 pts. In PHRF B, Bill Sweetser continues to lead their fleet on RUSH with a strong record of two 1sts and two ends for 6 pts.

At the end of the day, there was a J/70 Tuning and Boatspeed Panel that had Dave Ullman, Jeff Johnstone and Al Terhune talking about ways in which to make the J/70 go faster and sail better." target="_blank">Event website

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