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Wild and crazy J/Fest San Francisco

by J-Boats 15 Apr 04:42 PDT 7-8 April 2018
J/Fest 2018 © Chris Ray

In the face of a challenging weather forecast, the St Francis Yacht Club held its annual J/Fest last weekend, with J/24s, J/70s, J/88s, J/105s, and J/111s competing.

Rain? Low Clouds, Wind? Sun? Well, parts of all of the above; it all turned into a glorious weekend. The tide charts professed that we would have an ebb tide but the starting line had strong flood currents going well into the early afternoon, making "local knowledge" all the more important," commented photographer Chris Ray.

In each race, around 20 of the 27 J/105 teams tried to start at the signal boat, tack to port and foot out to the late ebb in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Those who were pinned off the line on starboard, going southerly toward the shore into more flood, even for just 1 minute, quickly found themselves a quarter mile behind any who escaped to the North into the westerly river, swollen by recent heavy rains. Those in the river found themselves sliding sideways, at several knots, upwind toward the starboard lay-line, accomplishing impressive VMGs up to 9.5 knots due to both the favorable tide and the enhanced apparent wind.

Despite being in some second or third row starts, Bruce Stone and Nicole Breault's ARBIRTAGE and others were still able to tack around the signal boat, and go bow down on port, reaching out to the river and catching up to anyone in the peloton sailing their boats normally upwind on a beat.

Nevertheless, there are always exceptions to the rule and in one start, ARBITRAGE spotted a left shift before the gun and boogied down to the tidally-unfavored pin end, starting on port and crossing the entire fleet, then footing back out to the ebb.

The regatta was initially dominated by new owner Tim Russell and the talented team on NE*NE that scored two bullets and two 5ths, leading ARBITRAGE by 3 points going into the last race. However, just before arriving at the three boat length circle around the last leeward mark, NE*NE violently luffed ARBITRAGE sharply and caused a collision. After untangling themselves, both boats passed several others on the remaining two legs, with NE*NE finishing that race in 2nd and ARBITRAGE 3rd, while securing 1st and 2nd, respectively, in the regatta. However, after a long evening in the protest room, NE*NE was DSQ'd and ARBITRAGE moved up to the top spot on the podium. Ryan Simmons on BLACKHAWK took second, Phillip Laby on GODOT third, Ian Charles on MAVERICK fourth, and Jeff Littfin's MOJO in fifth position.

According to Christy Usher, skipper on the J/70 CHRISTINE ROBIN and also the local San Francisco Bay Fleet Captain, "the Pineapple Express late-season weather system finished its 24+ hours of rain just in time for J/Fest 2018! Sufficient sun, adequate breeze and San Francisco currents greeted the 48 boats in five classes. The 27 boats in the J/105 fleet made for challenging starts with everyone angling for the "ebb elevator" in the middle of the bay.

With the top three contenders in the J/70 fleet swapping firsts, seconds and thirds across five races, it was SFYC's Chris Kostanecki on JENNIFER who ultimately bested StFYC's 1FA and CHRISTINE ROBINE, helmed by Scott Sellers and Tracy Usher, respectively. Taking fourth was Justin Foox's FLOTEK and fifth was Tom Thayer's RAMPAGE.

After three races on Saturday, competitors enjoyed a taco buffet, Mt. Gay cocktails, Stephanie Teel's awesome band and the eternally amusing and rowdy J/Fest Raffle, thanks to our supportive sponsors. The two looming Sunday races ensured everyone stayed upright after the party and the next morning lined up for clearer skies and ample wind. Thank you to the Race Committee and Protest Committee (who were busy all weekend)."

The J/88 class saw Marc McMorris' crew on M-SQUARED from San Diego YC overcome all the "local knowledge" teams to win counting just 1sts and 2nds in the scoreline, finishing with 7 pts total. Ironically, counting just 2nds and 3rds and taking second overall with a dozen points was Paul Recktenwald's LAZY DAWG from Stamford YC, yet another "alien" visiting San Francisco Bay! Third was top St Francis YC team COURAGEOUS, skippered by Donald Payan. Rounding out the top five was Aya Yamanouchi's BENNY in fourth and Steve Gordon's INCONCEIVABLE fifth.

In the J/111 class, Dorian McKelvy's MADMEN just missed an "all bullets" regatta, winning with just 6 pts total. Second was Nesrin Basoz's SWIFT NESS and third was Dick Swanson's BAD DOG.

The usual battle for J/24 supremacy had the usual protagonists slugging it out all weekend-long. In the end, it was the EVIL OCTOPUS from Richmond YC, skippered by Jasper Van Vliet, that posted a scoreline of 2-1-1-2-4 for 10 pts to win. Second was good friend Paul Van Ravenswaay on FERAL ROOSTER with a record of 5-2-2-1-3 for 13 pts. Sailing was much tighter than meets the eye on the scoring. As such, third place was determined by a tie-breaker between DOWNTOWN UPROAR and Val Lulevich's SHUT UP & DRIVE, both with 14 pts each and just one point in arrears of FERAL ROOSTER. On countback, it was DOWNTOWN UPROAR getting the nod for third place.

click here for more J/Fest San Francisco sailing information.

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