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J/121 & J/99 class winners at Conanicut Round Island Race

by J/Boats 8 Sep 06:37 PDT
Conanicut Round Island Race © Cate Brown

Sunday dawned with partly cloudy skies and a gentle northerly breeze wafting down Narragansett Bay. The forecast was for the gradient winds to swing into the east/ southeast by late afternoon and only build into the 5 to 9 kts range.

The course selected was "X", a counter-clockwise race starting north through the Newport Bridge, leaving all marks to port. After the first four classes started at 1100 hrs, the Conanicut Yacht Club PRO wisely decided to postpone all following starts for over an hour. The northerly winds had died and the powerful ebb tide of 1.5 kts was pushing the first four classes backwards across the starting line! Soon, the forecasted southeaster seabreeze slowly filled in and the rest of the fleet was sent off on their 21.0nm circumnavigation of Conanicut Island (Jamestown).

It turned out to be a "big boat" race on an overall basis, as the big, tall rigs were powering the 50-plus footers down the eastern passage to the finish line in the fickle southeast breeze. The smaller boats had to deal with variable winds from the Beavertail Point bell buoy, down past Clingstone bell, to the finish.

Nearly 100 boats sailed the race. Winning the PHRF H Division was Stu Johnstone's J/99 Agent 99 with his "Big Chill" crew of 60-somethings; many were members of past J/24 World Championship and J/24 North American Championship campaigns three decades ago. Third in their class was EC Helme's J/92 Spirit, fourth was Matt Schmitt's J/105 Hardtack, fifth was Tom Sutton's J/109 Leading Edge, sixth was Bill Kneller's J/109 Vento Solare, and seventh was John Sahagian's J/109 Picante.

In the one-design PHRF C Class of J/22s, winning was Bill Fortenberry's Quinn, followed by Jeff Westcott's Machbuster in second place, and Peter Parsons' Catch in third position. Rounding out the top five were Matt Dunbar's Don't Tell Mom and Victor Oancea's Wharf Rat, in 4th and 5th, respectively.

J/24s dominated the PHRF D Class Spinnaker class. Winning was Henry Lane's Fast Lane, followed by Mike Hill's Obstreperous in third.

Winning the closely fought PHRF G Spinnaker class was Paul Grimes' J/35 Breakaway; his team are multiple Round Island Race class winners.

Finally, winning the high-test PHRF J Class was Joe Brito's J/121 Incognito. Not too far behind them in fourth place was Jack Gregg's J/122 Tarahumara, and Mark Nannini's J/120 Salacia placed eighth. More Conanicut YC Round Island Race sailing information here.

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