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J/Teams crush Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race

by J-Boats 2 Mar 16:12 PST
Lauderdale to Key West Race © J-Boats

Sweep 1-2-3 Overall, Win Both ORC 2 & ORC 3 Divisions!

ORC 2 Division

In this seven-boat fleet, the trio of J/speedsters all finished in the top four spots. Winning was William Culberson's J/145 LIVE WIRE, followed by Chris Saxton's J/125 VORTICES 2 in third, and Forbes Durdin's J/121 BEAR in fourth place.

ORC 3 Division

This seven-boat group was treated to a good'ole fashioned "butt whipping"! The trio of J/Teams simply swept the ORC 3 Division podium and also swept the ORC Overall! Winning by a mere 31 seconds was Andrew Clark's J/122 ZIG ZAG. The offshore veterans on Chris Lewis's J/44 KENAI from Houston, TX put up a strong fight to take the silver medal while taking the bronze medal just 15 minutes behind on ORC handicap time was John Harvey's J/120 SLEEPING TIGER- SOUTH (a bunch of Detroit "good'ole boys")!

Chris Lewis commented on his KENAI team's perseverance:

"We had another great year competing in the SORC Islands in the Stream Series. The final race of four events was from Fort Lauderdale to Key West, formerly referred to as the 'Feeder' to Key West Race Week.

Our J/44 KENAI had an erratic series with a 1-10-10 and was lying 5th overall. Our goal was re-focused on a race win which is always tough to do in a large ORC-rated fleet with boats ranging from a Hobie 31 to an RP68.

The race started downwind with VMG running using the 0.5oz kite to Miami Sea Buoy. Picking the shifts and staying in pressure KENAI managed to hang with the most competitive lighter boats in our class, including the J/122 ZIG ZAG and the Farr 39 SENARA.

After Miami, the stretch to Fowey Rock turned into a light upwind against the edge of the Gulf Stream. With the wind rotating forwards and building a little Kenai took a hitch offshore picked up a better new breeze and took the lead in her Class.

The course then takes the fleet around the Keys offshore between the reef and the Gulf Stream that builds offshore to 3 knots against you.

Fifty miles later the wind shut off in the night and our navigator, who was checking onshore observations, realized that a NW land breeze off the Everglades was going to fill in. We readied the Code Zero and unfurled it as the new breeze filled in our starboard side. The faster Class 2 boats around us were not as well prepared and we overtook four faster boats in the next 30 mins!

However, as we peeled to the 0.5oz kite the faster boats ran over us as a second wind shut-off and left us drifting.

Gybing offshore to anticipate the gradient breeze filling in again we lost 100 yards and so decided to follow the pack. However, our main rival ZIG ZAG managed to soak below us and picked up a 10-knot fill of the SW prevailing breeze before us. Our advantage on them that had been as much as 6 miles evaporated and they jumped us as we struggled to douse the wind seeker in 10 knots (and doing 7 knots!) and get onto the 145% genoa.

Then came the drag race with Code Zeros or a heavy #1 on the rail and our speed in the breeze took us back into a leading position on the water. Turning around the Key West Sea buoy we hoisted the A2 and spinnaker staysail and charged for 6 miles up the channel to finish off the Naval Basin.

The sun was out and the water was crystal clear. But, we knew that ZIG ZAG may correct ahead of us.

After a long wait, as the SORC Race Committee consulted Dobbs Davis (head of the US ORC rating organization), the results were published. Dobbs had created a Custom Rating for the crazy wind conditions we encountered and ZIG ZAG corrected to 1st overall by 31 seconds from Kenai in a 26 hr 10 min race!

We had pulled ourselves up to 2nd in the series and were awarded the first yacht over 25 years. old and first Storm Trysail Member! A great way to conclude this year's Islands in the Stream Series!"

ORC Overall Honors

J/Teams occupied six of the top eight places in ORC Overall. Behind the J/122, J/44, and J/120 was Culberson's J/145 LIVE WIRE in 5th, Saxton's J/125 VORTICES 2 in 7th, and Forbes Durdin's J/121 in 8th place!

For more SORC Key West Race sailing information: keywestrace.org.

For SORC Key West Race sailing results: yachtscoring.com/emenu.cfm?eID=16278.

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