J/70 Racing Season Heats Up

Fifty-three J/70 teams traveled to Davis Island Yacht Club in Tampa, Florida for the first event of the 2016-2017 Quantum J/70 Winter Series on December 10-11. Basking in sunshine and breeze between 10-18 knots for seven races, Marty Kullman on Reach Around finished strong to secure the weekend victory with 13 points.  J World was there with a three student and one coach team as well as providing coaching and logistics support to several other J/70 teams from around the country.

Kullman was able to discard a 15 from the opening contest, and added in four bullets. Bruno Pasquinelli’s Stampede took second place with 19 points, followed by Darby Smith’s Africa with 35.

The 23-boat Corinthian division was topped by Andrew Loe.

 

What’s in the bag man?

Packing for an island adventure is always tough. Somehow, no matter how little I bring – I always bring too much. I have been adjusting what I bring on these sorts of trips and below is what I would suggest is “must brings” for a trip like the upcoming BVI Flotilla.

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What you bring your stuff in is actually a pretty big consideration. Schlepping through the airport, getting on/off busses, cabs and ferries and then storing it all when you get aboard are serious considerations for you bag of choice. For me, a soft duffel in the 45-90 liter range is just the ticket. I prefer the 45, but sometimes have to bring the bigger bag if I have a bunch of teaching materials. If you don’t bring your multitool – it is pretty easy to walk on with this bag.

While I wouldn’t want to hike the Appalachian Trail with the bag, it does sling on your back pretty easily. If you don’t stuff it full your carryon bag should fit inside making for a one bag transfer when you hit the ground. The most important part is that it packs flat when you get to the boat or can do double duty. Anything with wheels and hard sides isn’t going to do that. I am partial to the Patagonia Black Hole series of bags, but any duffel will do.

You won’t be wearing shoes for most of your trip. It is a fact. Flip flops will cover most of your shore side footwear (no shoes required in many places) and a pair of running shoes would cover the rest. Think light and leave the slingbacks and boots at home. This past trip I wore Astral Filipe’s and loved them for the whole trip. I brought my Astral Brewer’s… but never wore them. Had we done more hiking, I would have been happy to have them there.

You need two swimsuits. No more. One is drying and the other one you are wearing. Switch as needed. Black Patagonia Baggies or your favorite board shorts are all you will need for in the water, on the boat and at the restaurant or bar. A pair of lightweight pants can be OK for buggy nights, but frankly I think they are overkill. If you justify them as something to wear on the plane you can get away with it – but once you hit the airport…change. It gets hot quick.

Two long sleeve tech shirts, one light button down shirt with a collar (for the plane or if you want to feel fancy) and you can call it good.

I lightweight rain jacket will keep the squalls off your back, but frankly they are short lived, feel pretty good as a wash down and the charter boats are so well protected it isn’t needed.

Bring your phone. I travelled this past event and used my phone (iPhone 7plus) as my email, camera and navigation tool. I have a travel keyboard which makes email easy. Arrange international service with your provider before you go for no hassle comms, and take tons of photos and video. You don’t need your computer. If you can’t do what you need to do from your phone, then it will wait for when you return.

They charter company has plenty of snorkel gear. You don’t need your own. But if you think you will snorkel one other time this year… bring your own mask and snorkel. Use their fins, unless you are also using fins in your masters swimming practice.

Hat and sunglasses are key. Bring a hat you don’t have to return with. It will likely get blown off, crushed or left on the dance floor.

In addition to your normal toiletries – bring campsuds. Most of your showering will take place on the back of the boat. Jump in. Get out. Wash down. Jump in. Get out. Freshwater rinse. Campsuds make that process better.

OK, so that’s my bag… what are you bringing?

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You’ve Never Really Been There and Done That

After many trips to the BVI’s – I am pretty sure I just had the best one ever.

Culebra – part of the Spanish Virgin Islands
Culebra – part of the Spanish Virgin Islands

What made it so good? The people made it special, we had an onboard cook who made simple but MIND-BLOWING meals, but I realized you can really never “been there done that” if you dig deeper – was what made this trip the best.

I am so excited to be returning with the J World Flotilla in February to do it and more again.

I live in Annapolis, but I opted to fly out of DCA. My flight left DCA at 0600. Often in the past I have opted to stay the night at a lower cost hotel near the hotel, but this time I decided to drive. I left Annapolis at 0400, but construction on US-50 put me a little behind schedule. I ended up in garage parking – which is expensive. If I had planned better I might have saved $30 dollars spending the night somewhere nearby – but I would have left my wife a night early and had the hassle of getting to/from the airport.

You have to consider what is most important to you. You also have to make sure you are prepared for the little things that do add up.

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Ian and the Melges – Part Three – MOVING DAY

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Day 3 Races 7-9:  On the way out the team was quiet.

Clearly a bit worn out and contemplating how to move up. I grabbed one of our laminated tactical note sheets and wrote down the 8 boats ahead of us and the 3 boats behind us. I told the team, “This is our neighborhood, if we want to move up, these are the boats we have to beat. We have to hit a few base hits before we swing for the home run.”

Race seven gave us a better understanding of what it means to be in the weeds. We had another decent start but quickly lost every lane we had and got spit out the back. Clearly something was wrong. With the crystal clear water here in Miami we can easily see the keel when we hike. So we were hiking hard to see if there was a hunk of sea grass on our keel, and we could see nothing. Whilst trying to remain focused on the shifts and where the breeze was we were getting increasingly frustrated by our lack of point and speed. What could the problem be?! Finally, on the starboard lay line I was hiking my butt off as we fell back to second to last place and I caught a glimpse of the rudder out of the corner of my eye. There was a giant grass monster holding on to our rudder! I jumped back to the rudder and shot my hand down the leading edge as if I was snatching a salmon from a stream. With salt water spewing up into my nostrils and eyes I was able to clear a good three pound hunk for grass from the rudder. Voila! Our speed and point returned to normal.

Now the challenge was shaking off the first leg and climbing through the fleet. Down wind we worked hard to stay in breeze, surf the waves, and pounce on any opportunity to pass boats. By the time we reached the leeward mark we were nipping at the heels of some familiar faces. We were back in our neighborhood. Coming out of the leeward mark we escaped by making a couple tacks shortly after the mark to get clean air. Up wind we played some shifts and were happy to have our normal boat speed back. At the windward mark we played it conservative and had to duck a few boats that we had caught but we ended up finishing close with this gaggle of boats. We were certainly in the weeds but we shook them off and were able to go from second to last to 51st in 3 legs.

Lesson learned: Everyone has a crummy leg every now and then. No matter the reason, there is always more race to go. Do not allow you or your team to spiral. Keep your eyes forward(or back ward if you’re going down wind) and sail as you would otherwise. If you continue to work hard you will reel the fleet back in.

Overall we continued to start fairly well. After the start we worked on anticipating lane loss and deciding whether it was a tack out or a foot off situation. This seemed to help a bit, although we could still improve on this. We seem to have a habit of getting off the start line well then perhaps tacking once and extending for a long while, sometimes sailing on the outside of a shift. Looking ahead we will see a top boat and say, ” they’re going this way, we must be doing something right.” I often voice my opposition to this as I believe those boats are sailing in a different race and there are top boats on both sides of the course. On the flip side of that there had been a couple occasions when we ping ponged a bit and sailed up the middle of the course, to similar mediocre results.

We are doing a good job of holding our mid fleet position, but as anyone would, we want to move up. I am certainly open to ideas.

On the fatigue front: after 9 races in 3 days and a seemingly marginal forecast for this morning the PRO graciously granted the fleet a warning no earlier than 1300 today. Well rested, our goal today is to improve our down wind legs.

Three races to go, it would be nice to peak in race 12.

Ian and the Melges – Part Two

Coach Ian Moriarty, who can most often be found coaching on a J World J/80 or J/70 is racing in the Melges 24 World Championship in Miami, Florida.  From there he will scamper across the state to lead our first Davis Island J/70 Winter Series program in Tampa.  The challenges and successes he’s having at the Melges event will surely have him tuned up for the first Davis Island Series event.  We still have a few spots open for our J/88 race down the reed (aka Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race) and for our third Davis Island series event (February.)  Let us know if you can join in the fun.

KB:  Alright Ian, you have been racing for two days now.  What are the big takeaways?

Day 2
Day 2

IM:  There are a few big things that come to mind.  First, find a specific challenge and fix it.  For us we decided, based on day one, we wanted to improve our starts. So on day two we made that a priority.

First we developed a strategy. What end would we attempt to start on? And what if our plan to find our hole doesn’t work out?  We made use of the “magic box”(velocitek prostart), as always, to give us distance to the line. But we also developed a stream of information that was constant from 2 minutes on. Time? Distance from the line? Early? Late? The position of boats around us? Room to head up or bear away?

Of all 3 of the starts we matched the time to the distance in the last 30 seconds and had better holes to get the boat moving.

KB:  Nice work.  In all of these big fleet events having a solid start is crucial to being able to survive the first beat.  So what are you working on today?

IM:  After a good start how can we escape and improve our finishing positions?  We have some ideas, I’ll let you know how they go at the end of today.

KB:  That’s a very Trumpian response.  I’ll be waiting in suspense:)  So how is the crew communication on the boat?  You’ve been sailing with the group for a while, but sometimes the test of a big event can stress even strong team bonds?

IM:  That is big takeaway number two.  Be open to constructive criticism.

We can simply be content with how we sail or race and hold steady in our neighborhood of competitors, or we can look inwardly at where we lost boat lengths on the course. To do this you have to be willing to hear it from someone else and admit it to your self with out taking offense. As a team this is not a point of conflict but an opportunity to learn. It is important to have a team you’ve sailed with long enough that this process goes smoothly.

KB:  I wonder what is harder?  To give constructive criticism or receive it.  So it sounds like you are developing some good team dynamics that are leading to improving results.  If you had to boil down one thing in that area that is leading to better decisions and better outcomes, what would it be?

IM:  Trust your skipper and trust your crew.  When there are tough decisions to be made and someone has an idea it’s better to trust them and commit to it than to spend too much time discussing it.  Admitidly, We need to adhere to this more often. In the moments we trust each other we excel, when we do not and rather have a conflict we struggle.

Trust the plan, commit to it, hike hard, call puffs, call waves, watch the compass, and the plan is more likely to succeed.

KB:  Perfect words to wrap with.  Good luck, sail fast and have fun.

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