Adventures at Cowes Week, Part 2

Cowes Week definitely knows how to ensure that the competitors have a great time. There were three regatta villages, with the largest in the middle at Cowes Yacht Haven where we were tied up for the week. There was a second village further down the marina (this village staged most of the big parties), and a third village toward the Royal Yacht Squadron where the public was truly able to interact with the racers. Every day, both of the marina villages had their own temporary night clubs set up that stayed open till 2 am. There were live bands playing days and evenings, and the main village had a 100’ long beer bar with over 50 taps, so there was never a huge line- even with 6,000+ folks looking for a beverage. The regatta sponsors had their own booths set up, and hosted parties every night, and there was a huge viewing screen where the public and crews alike could watch live finishes and check results.

The following day, our navigator was cleared to sail and so we were able to just concentrate on sailing fast while he made sure we steered well clear of any issues (like shoals!) With the navigator on board, we were able to get a strong lead at the first mark and continued to extend on each leg. Our crew work got even better as we pulled out to a 2-3 minute lead which we managed to hold until the finish.
Over the next few days we sailed a multitude of race courses and distances with remarkable success: we won all of the races that we started, and we managed to lead our division around almost all of the mark roundings along the way- until the Thursday race.
The race on Thursday started the way the others had: we managed a solid start, and then with excellent boat speed and crew work we pulled into the lead by the first mark. We rounded in the lead for a few more marks, and set off on a half-mile reach under chute towards mark 6.
Unfortunately, most of the 181 marks on the Solent look very similar, and unfortunately, we actually missed the correct mark. The entire crew had been getting ready to go back to the jib, getting the deck sorted out, before we finally realized that we had gone much further than the half mile distance to the next mark, and when we looked at the GPS we saw the distance to the mark growing, not shrinking.

We quickly started our maneuvers to get the spinnaker down and the jib up, but by the time we had worked through all of this, we had sailed nearly a quarter of a mile past the mark, and we could see the next three boats in our class closing in on the rounding. We sailed the boat back as fast as we could, and managed to round within a couple of boat lengths of the now-second-placed boat. With only a handful of marks left and very little runway to use as passing lanes, we first began match racing the 2nd place boat, and after a few more tacks, using our great boat speed some smart tactics and crew work we managed to pick off the second-placed boat, leaving us just one more to catch. It took a few more maneuvers, but with our better pointing mode, we got ourselves back to the front of the fleet- and only a little more than a mile into the beat.

From that point on, we continued to extend our lead over the next two legs until we had stretched back out to a lead of around 4 minutes. However, on the horizon we could see some storm clouds and squall lines brewing, and in the back of our minds we knew that we were finally about to get some of the crazy English weather we had heard about. Sure enough, a squall line hit within a minute or two of rounding the third-to-last mark, bringing 35+ knots of wind and driving rain.

Even though we had seen the storm building, we decided to stick it out and run with the 138% Genoa (which was very tired and worn-out after three extremely hard years and hundreds of tacks). As the breeze lines roared down the course, we considered making a headsail change- but the time needed to do this, and the fact that the next leg was a 2 mile reach, left us with no choice but to stick it out with the 138%. After a few minutes of truly hardcore breeze, things settled down to around the mid 20’s (for us, typical Antigua conditions) and we powered on to the last marks of the course, extending our lead slightly over the next few miles to finish first by about 6 minutes. With the win in this race we had locked up the overall Beneteau 40.7 class win, and while technically there was no need to sail the last race Friday, we were going for the overall regatta win, so we would be racing Friday.

As we hit the starting line Friday, though, we found ourselves struggling to get the boat up to speed as we had in days past; heading for the first mark, we were in 4th place, with a pretty good deficit to try and make up. After passing a boat on the first run, we rounded the 2nd the mark in 3rd place.

The third leg was a tight spinnaker reach with a load of current, so crew work was paramount (and would ultimately decide this race.) We rounded the 4th and 5th marks, each time closer to the two boats ahead of us. Finally we had an even tighter spinnaker reaching leg to the finish.
We had a great gybe at the last mark that allowed us to grab a high lane towards our best escape route out of the current. The second-placed boat had made a wide turn, and while it took some time, because we were able to escape the current faster, we managed get ahead of him.

This left us just one boat to catch, and they were directly on our line as we both sailed towards a shallow rocky outcropping. The boat ahead had won the class the previous year, and her crew grew up sailing exactly where we were heading, so we knew that if they get there first, we probably wouldn’t get another opportunity to pass them, so we started trying to work our way above them every chance we had. They would come up with us, trying to block our path, but the first time their spinnaker collapsed, we gained a nice overlap. The scrapping continued for another half mile or so until we finally hooked into a good puff and kept our spinnaker flying (thanks to the grinders) while the other team’s chute collapsed again, and we quickly rolled just to windward of the other boat, and soon had pulled ahead by a few boat lengths. Continuing to work extremely hard, we pulled out to around a 100 meter lead just as the wind started to die.

Sailing against the 3 knot current in the dying breeze was definitely a challenge, and the lead we had worked so hard to achieve proved vital as we managed to slip across the finish line under chute before the shifting breeze forced the following boats to change from chutes to jibs and tack up to the finish. We had pulled out our 7th win of the regatta, beating the second-place boat across the line by around four minutes.
We had such a convincing class win, with all first place finishes, we thought we might have a chance at winning the overall Black Fleet win with our perfect score card. However, it was not to be; a British J-109 with a record of 6 firsts and a fourth took the overall prize, ostensibly because there had been four more boats in their fleet than had been in ours. (Maybe if we had only had a few Brits aboard, we might have taken the big prize!) So in the end, while we may not have gotten the overall Black Fleet victory, we did take the Beneteau 40.7 fleet by storm- and had a great time doing it.

Adventures at Cowes Week

It’s been a couple of weeks now since our crew finished up a successful Cowes Week 2012 aboard Elandra. We are settled back into our daily routines, and even started our local Boat of the Year series here in Tampa Bay- but more on that later.
Cowes Week 2012 saw 831 boats racing in over forty divisions each day, with multiple starting lines in use to help spread the fleets out across the Solent. There were boats ranging in size from 15’ to over 80’, with all of us zig-zagging across the Solent and through numerous other fleets- and to top it off, through all of the shipping and ferry traffic. Most of the crossings went by without too much incident, and most disputes were settled post-racing over cold beers. What a spectacular sight: to see so many boats racing at the same time on the same small patch of water, and finishing all within the same 250 yards of finish line.
This was Elandra’s first trip back across the pond since owner Calvin Reed purchased her some 6 years ago in Europe. Calvin sought out the right crew to take her back and race Cowes Week, and in 2010 the team truly started to come together with a class win in the Heineken Regatta in and a solid finish in Antigua. In 2011 Elandra won her class in both the Rolex Race Week in St. Thomas, USVI and Antigua Sailing Week, and she won her class in Antigua again in 2012. The decision was made, after these very successful two years, to ship the boat across the Pond to Southampton, UK. This was it: Elandra was going to compete in one of the most prestigious events in the world of sailing, Cowes Week, while racing against the biggest fleet of Beneteau 40.7s she had ever faced before.
The crew aboard Elandra is mostly from the Tampa Bay area, though the foredeck team hails from Tennessee, and others in the crew came all the way from California. Heading up our team is Owner & Pit Calvin Reed, with Helmsman John Linton; Main Trimmer/Tactician Jeff Linton; Headsail and Spinnaker Trimmers Josh Wilus and Ken Hardy; Grinders David Reed Jr. & Sr.; the Tennessee two on the bow, John Harrison and Rob Borquin; Tefford Reed; and the previous owner of the boat and Navigator, Ken Aycott.
For most of us, this was the first time racing in the Solent, renowned for its somewhat unpredictable conditions and swift moving currents. Expecting the usual cool damp and rainy English sailing conditions, I’m not sure any of us were really prepared for the week of weather that we were given: after 3 days of racing, we had killer sunburns, and the foul weather gear was just extra weight on board. In fact there were only a few moments when the team needed our foulies during the whole week.
Our journey started August 6th with a direct flight to London/Gatwick, hoping to avoid the Olympics traffic. We landed in the UK early on August 7, and several hours later found ourselves at a small hotel across from the marina in Southampton where Elandra had been launched just a few hours earlier. After dropping off our bags it was off to the boat to start the conversion process from Cruise Mode to Race Mode. After securing several lockers from the marina to store all of the equipment that we did not want or need, we started emptying the boat, and after several hours later of lightening the boat it was time for a shower, beer, food and bed.
Despite still being rather jet-lagged, early the next morning we walked down to the boat and pushed off for the 2 hour crossing of the Solent towards Cowes. We quickly discovered just how much the current would play a factor in the coming racing: with over 20’ tides, the water funnels through the Solent at up to 4 knots- calling the laylines to the marks would be a little tricky! Once ashore in Cowes, we quickly located several top-caliber tide books of the Solent that helped immeasurably in negotiating all its back eddies and shoals; these guides are a must-have for someone new to the Solent. When we headed out the following morning for practice, we really began to learn the tides and the secrets of the Solent firsthand.
Of course, we all headed for the boat with our bags packed with plenty of warm clothes and foul weather gear- this was England, after all- but it turned out shorts, t-shirts- and sunscreen- were all we needed, because for our first couple of days on the Solent the weather was not at all typical: 10-14 knots of breeze, flat water, average temps in mid 70’s and hardly a cloud in the sky.
We decided we better find out just how difficult calling a layline would be in that strong Solent current with some practice mark roundings. We first tried tacking onto a typical “no current effect” layline, and completely missed the mark- but now we had some idea of gauge, so we gave it another shot leaving an extra 6 degrees, and just barely missed, so our next attempt- with 7-8 degrees extra- we nailed the mark perfectly. After a few more practice mark roundings, chute hoists and douses, etc. we were pretty comfortable with the boat handling and crew work, so we finished up our practice and headed in for lunch, figuring we would head back out in the afternoon and sail to some of the marks likely to be used for the racing to check on localized tidal movement. Unfortunately, after heading back to the boat we discovered the breeze had basically shut down, so we decided we would just motor around to different locations and get a feel for the waters in which we would be sailing a 25-30 mile race each day of Cowes Week. Our next couple of days of practice were pretty much the same: just sailing and working up in different locations to better understand the Solent currents.
Race Day One came on Saturday August 11. Our start was one of the last of the day, and as our crew started to arrive at the boat we noticed that a very important piece of the puzzle (our Navigator Ken) had not arrived as scheduled. A few phone calls later, we learned that Ken was in hospital with a serious migraine and was out for the day at the very least and maybe more. This was not the phone call that you want to get 20 minutes before leaving the dock! Luckily we had an extra crew mate in town already, so at least we had a full crew aboard when we headed out to the starting area.
The line was about a half mile off the Royal Yacht Squadron, between Cowes and the Bramble Bank, a huge sandbar that at extreme low tides is used as a cricket field. The Brambles is also the main turning point for outbound shipping traffic from Southampton- often, 1000’ long ships- which have to make nearly a 90 degree turn to head up or down the Solent. (The now-famous video from the 2011 edition of Cowes Week took place not far from this very point, when a 35 foot racer trying to cross in front of a ship did not quite clear the ship’s bow, and instead got bounced down the side of the 800’ freighter, practically destroying the boat. Luckily no one was seriously injured, but it certainly served as a reminder that things can get very busy around the Brambles!)
As our class was the fifth start to get underway, we were able to closely watch where and how the boats in the fleets ahead were sailing. From our observations, we decided we liked the left side of the course and opted to start down towards the pin end of the line, heading for less current and away from the shipping channel. After a good start, everybody settled in as we got the boat moving well- we were top five at this point and all was looking good. We were heading left and were soon the left-most boat. Suddenly we found out why, as we sailed straight onto Bramble Bank. We quickly went into action and made an attempt to tack, but as we were in pretty shallow water at this point, and having slowed so much in our grounding, we did not have the speed to get us through the first tack. Luckily, on our second attempt to tack away we did have the necessary speed, and we backed the genoa to force the boat off the shoal.
We realized that we had ended up on the bank because, unlike racing in the States, we were given the day’s race course about eleven minutes before the start, and most of the courses had upwards of 10-16 marks that had to be plotted. When you are used to this type of delivery system, everything is done by priority, and the bearing, distance, and description of the first mark are given while the remaining course is plotted out. Instead of getting this information on deck and checking the charts for obstructions, we had gotten everyone up on the rail to get through the start and get going as fast as we could. After clearing ourselves from the Bramble Bank, we decided it best to plot out the course and pay a little more attention to the GPS!
Unfortunately, while freeing ourselves from the Brambles, we dropped from the top five to well back in the fleet, and so now we really had our work cut out for us. After a few good tactical calls, excellent straight-line boat speed, and sharp boat-handling maneuvers, we found we had climbed back up into the leading pack. We rounded in 4th and managed to hook into a narrow line of breeze that pulled us up to third in class by the 6th mark rounding.
Calamity struck again, though, but this time it was the hydraulic backstay system: the plunger and pin had fallen out, allowing hydraulic fluid to leak out and preventing the stay from being tensioned. With no backstay and a three-mile upwind leg ahead, we knew it would be pretty difficult to stay in touch with the other boats in our class. There were very few tactical options available to us. We stuck it out, though, and must have worked harder than the other boats, because we managed to stay close enough on the beat to be in a position to pass on the run. We constantly closed our gauge on the final run, cutting the lead boat down to just two seconds at the finish line; and after a little math, we realized that he owed us eleven seconds over the course of the race. We had managed to pick up the win, even after running hard aground, breaking our backstay system, and not having our navigator aboard. We felt we had truly earned our celebratory beers at the regatta party tent!

cowes_week_bouy

cowes_week_boat-prep

cowes_week_hiking-out

The History of JSI

The Early Years

As a young man growing up in Tampa, Florida, Clint Johnson learned about making sails from his parents, and in 1939 he bought an existing sail loft from local sail maker Jimmy Turner. After building sails for over twelve years, though, Clint was ready for new challenges, and in 1952 he retired from sail making.

But making sails had gotten into Clint’s blood, and he soon tired of retirement, so by 1962 he was back making sails again, this time at a loft now named Johnson Sails Incorporated (JSI). At that time, JSI was located just off 49th Street in Largo, Florida where the now well-known JSI “Red Arrow” sail logo was first created. JSI was not just a local Tampa Bay area supplier, though, and JSI “Red Arrow” sails were soon seen on boats all around the country, especially after becoming standard equipment on most boats built at the near-by Irwin Yachts manufacturing facility. JSI also branched out into other marine fields, and soon began fabricating the complete interior and exterior cushion sets and canvas products for all vessels made by Irwin Yachts, among other commercial customers, as well as supplying cushions and canvas products for private boat owners.

Clint Johnson Retires (Again)

By 1978, after building hundreds if not thousands of sails (and cushion sets, and canvas products), Clint was once again ready for retirement. A willing buyer for JSI was found in Larry French, who moved JSI to a location on Gandy Blvd. in Pinellas Park, Florida. Clint Johnson had opened small marine rigging and mast fabrication departments at JSI, but under Larry French, JSI grew even larger, and in addition to sails, cushions and canvas products, JSI began supplying marine rigging and complete spar sets (masts, booms, etc.) for OEM customers as well as private sailors and customers around the US and the world.

With the opening of a large ship’s chandlery, over the next 22 years the Gandy Blvd.-located JSI developed a reputation as a true Marine Super Store, where anything and everything a sailor might want or need could be procured. In addition to custom and OEM sails from the sail loft, the JSI Ship’s Store offered a huge range of items- everything from off-the-shelf goods and hardware from vendors around the world to custom goods that were built to an individual customer’s specifications in the spar, rigging, cushion or canvas departments. JSI also became a major supplier of OEM goods for a variety of boat manufacturers such as Catalina Yachts, Hunter Yachts, Kadey-Krogen Yachts, Endeavour Yachts, and Manta Catamarans among many others.

The Internet Age

In 2000, an Internet company named Sailnet based in Charlestown, SC, which had been hosting a web page for JSI, bought into JSI with a bold plan of expanding the company more fully into the digital age. JSI/Sailnet went through a period of rapid expansion through sales created by the national (and international) exposure generated by the increased Internet presence, but when the tech bubble burst, JSI/Sailnet found itself somewhat “upside down”, and in 2003 the Sailnet/JSI partnership was broken up, with the JSI manufacturing facility in Florida bought by Mark Ploch (head of Doyle/Ploch Sails), Bill Wright (a long-time Manufacturing Manager at JSI) and Ken Clark (who had spent years at JSI as an Operations Manager.)

JSI Today

In 2008, JSI and Doyle/Ploch Sails moved to a new location at 2233 3rd Avenue South, conveniently located in downtown St. Petersburg, close to the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, the St. Petersburg Sailing Center, the various St. Petersburg Municipal Marinas, the large Harborage Marina, and the very active Salt Creek Marine District, home of many full-service boatyards and other marine-oriented facilities such as the Salt Creek Boatworks, Embree Marine, Sailor’s Wharf and Progressive Marine.

Between Doyle-Ploch Sails and JSI, customers can still find in one convenient location all the same services for sailors for which JSI has always been known: custom sails from the large Doyle-Ploch sail loft; all manner of marine hardware and goods from the comprehensively-stocked chandlery now known as the Island Nautical Marine Store; any and all manner of standing and running rigging from our fully-equipped Rigging Department; anything and everything from spinnaker poles to complete spar sets to custom metalwork from the Spar Shop; and everything from complete interior cushion sets and cockpit cushions to awnings, bimini tops, dodgers and custom canvas items from the very complete Cushion and Canvas departments.

Doyle-Ploch Sails and JSI are ready to help any customers with updating and refurbishing older boats with the latest in marine hardware, technology, sails, rigging, spars or hardware, as well as helping in the outfitting and commissioning of brand-new vessels. Come see us at 2233 3rd Avenue South in beautiful downtown St. Petersburg, and let us help you spend more and better time out on the water!

And after checking out all that JSI and Doyle-Ploch have to offer, consider catching a Tampa Bay Rays baseball game at nearby Tropicana Field, or a Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer game at Al Lang Field on the waterfront, or taking in a concert at the Mahaffey, State, or Palladium theaters, or visiting the award-winning Dali Museum (all just minutes from JSI and Doyle-Ploch Sails.) And one can hardly leave downtown St. Petersburg without enjoying a fine meal at one of the scores of great restaurants in the area- but first come see us at JSI!

J/33 Mash up Part.1

Johnny Roberts, a well know yachtsman from Mobile was looking for his next project and Mark Ploch knew that there was a J/33 in the bay area that was for sale and somehow (over scotch I suspect) the plan was hatched to put a Mumm 36 mast from a local salvage yard in the J Boat. Our good friend Rich Riddle from ROSS YACHT SALES was able to broker the deal and “voila” Johnny had a boat and mast, and a project.

What do you get when you match a J/33 without a mast and a Mumm 36 mast without a boat? We’re not to sure either , but will be finding out not to long from now…

Now all we have to do is:

(1) Make the MUMM mast fit the J/33
(2) Make and install new chainplates
(3) Reinforce the hull for the new chainplates (This is being done by Gable Enterprises)
(3) Make and install a sprit
(4) Make new sails
(5) Modernize the deck layout
(6) A bunch of things we haven’t even thought of…

Here are some pictures of the boat as we found it….


Stand by for part 2 etc.

Olympic Sailing 2012 and the TAMPA BAY Area

We wish all the US Sailing Team good luck in the Olympics.

Our area is well represented on the team:

 

Zach Railey – Finn

Zach Railey 
US OLYMPIC TEAM: 2008, 2012
US SAILING TEAM: 2001 – present
HOMETOWN: Clearwater, Fla.
MEMBER OF: St. Francis Yacht Club
HIGH SCHOOL: Clearwater High School ’02
COLLEGE: University of Miami ’06
BIRTHDATE: 5/9/84
OCCUPATION: Professional athlete
WEB SITE: www.zach2012.com
TWITTER: zachsail 
FACEBOOK: Zach 2012

Paige Railey – Laser Radial

Paige Railey 
US OLYMPIC TEAM: 2012
US SAILING TEAM: 2005-present
HOMETOWN: Clearwater, Fla.
MEMBER OF: St Francis Yacht Club
HIGH SCHOOL: Clearwater High School ’05
COLLEGE: University of South Florida ’10
BIRTHDATE: 5/15/87
OCCUPATION: Sailor
FAMILY MEMBERS WHO SAILZach Railey
WEBSITE http://paigerailey.com/
FACEBOOK FAN SITE PaigeRailey
TWITTERPaigeSailor

 

Mark Mendelblatt – Star

Mark Mendelblatt 
POSITION: Skipper
CREW: Brian Fatih
US OLYMPIC TEAM: 2004 (Laser), 2012 (Star)
US SAILING TEAM: 2011
HOMETOWN: Miami, Fla.
MEMBER OF: St. Petersburg Yacht Club
HIGH SCHOOL: St. Petersburg High School
COLLEGE: Tufts University ’95
BIRTHDATE: 02/19/1973
OCCUPATION: Professional Sailor

 

Farrah Hall – RS:X

Screen Shot 2012-03-20 at 2.25.51 PM 
US OLYMPIC TEAM: 2012
US SAILING TEAM: 2002-2004 (Mistral), 2006-present (Women’s RS:X)
HOMETOWN: Annapolis, Md.
HIGH SCHOOL: Broadneck High School ’99
COLLEGE: St. Mary’s College of Maryland ‘03
BIRTHDATE: 11/1/81
OCCUPATION: Professional sailor
WEB SITE: www.farrahhall.com
BLOG: http://farrahhall.blogspot.com/
FACEBOOK: Farrah Hall
TWITTER: FarrahHall

 

JP Creignou – SKUD 18

Screen Shot 2012-03-20 at 2.15.06 PM 
POSITION: Crew
SKIPPER: Jen French
US PARALYMPIC TEAM: 2012
US SAILING TEAM: 2001-04, 2011
HOMETOWN: Paris, France
MEMBER OF: St. Petersburg Yacht Club
COLLEGE: ESME College, Paris, France
BIRTHDATE:
OCCUPATION: Sailor

 

Jen French – SKUD 18

Jen French
POSITION: Skipper
CREW: JP Creignou
US PARALYMPIC TEAM: 2012
US SAILING TEAM: 2009-present
HOMETOWN: St. Petersburg, Fla.
MEMBER OF: St. Petersburg Yacht Club
HIGH SCHOOL: Revere High School ‘89
COLLEGE: Bridgewater State College ‘93
GRADUATE SCHOOL: Wichita State University ’95, MBA
BIRTHDATE: 06/11/1971
OCCUPATION: Non-Profit Executive Director
WEBSITEwww.j2racingusa.org
 
Here are some links that will help you follow along………..
  • The primary portal for all Team activity and news is the websitehttp://Olympics.USSailing.org where the day’s news and results will be posted following competition, along with a photo gallery, video and audio interviews and Team Leader Dean Brenner’s special behind-the-scenes “At the Helm” blog. Video interviews with the Team will be posted to the website or subscribe to the Team’s YouTube channel http://www.YouTube.com/USSailingTeam.
  • NBCOlympics.com has announced that it will broadcast the sailing competition live each day. The site has archived video and reports from the 2008 Games, including the video footage of Anna Tunnicliffe’s gold-medal winning medal race in the Laser Radial, and interviews with each member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Sailing Teamhttp://www.nbcolympics.com/sailing/index.html.

 

TEAM USA NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT

The U.S. Olympic Sailing Team will be racing for gold against the best in the world and you can follow all the action in Weymouth. Sixteen athletes representing the U.S. across 10 Olympic events are making final preparations for the 2012 Olympic Sailing Regatta on July 29 to August 11. Follow Team USA’s every tack and jibe and cheer them on along the way with a Tweet or a post on our Facebook site!

     GO TEAM USA !!

 

Regata del Sol al Sol 2012

The “Regata del Sol al Sol”, is the annual Race from St. Petersburg FL to Isla Mujeres Mexico.   Isla Mujeres (Isla) is a small resort Island off the coast of Cancun Mexico.   The “Isla” Race as it is called by race veterans, is a 456NM course starting in Tampa Bay off the St. Petersburg Pier.   The fleet consists of separate classes for Racers, Cruisers, and Multihulls.  The course sends the fleet under the famous “Skyway Bridge” and out Southwest Pass.  After rounding SW-1 off Egmont Key, it’s up to the navigators to decide on the best tactical route across the Gulf of Mexico to the finish.

The race can be tactically challenging depending on wind, or lack thereof, and complicated by the Gulf Stream current.   The Gulf Stream runs between Cuba and the Yucatan peninsula, and right alongside “Isla”.  It shoots up into the Gulf of Mexico, forming a loop current.  Depending on weather conditions the current can be a deciding factor in the race depending on where and when boats encounter the current.   At times, a counter current can also be found along the west side of the stream, flowing south. This counter current when encountered can often help a yacht coming in from the north.

Tactics can vary, splitting the fleet as soon as they exit Tampa Bay.  Some head west to catch the southerly flow of the loop current early, trying to get a boost.  Others will head south and attempt to get across the east side of the loop current and come into “Isla” from the south with the brunt of the current carrying them north. Lastly is the “Rhumbline”, or the most direct,  southwesterly course to the finish.  Any of these routes can be a gamble depending on weather.

The 2012 race started the fleet out Friday in light northeasterly winds for a reach down the bay.  Those with close reaching spinnakers, were able to get a little distance on the rest of the fleet, in a battle out of the bay.  The faster of the racing fleet took off and managed to clear SW-1, before the wind died and changed to a westerly seabreeze, making  for a beat out for the rest of the fleet.

I was sailing on the custom Hunter-Helson 47 “Jade”.  Jade is owned by Jopie Helson, owner of Sailor’s Wharf Yacht Yard in St. Petersburg.  Our Crew consisted of 6 experienced sailors, including myself, Jopie Helson, and Mike Haber of Hood Yacht Systems.

Our skipper’s plan was to keep as close as we could to sailing the Rhumbline.  Although the racing class made it out of the bay ahead of the rest of the fleet, Jade was the first of the cruising classes to round SW-1 coming out of the bay.  As any distance sailor knows, races are often won or lost at night.  Our crew did a great job of sailing the boat both day and night, including performing over 20 sail changes during the race.   Our main competition, the Oyster 65 “NIKI” and the Irwin 68 “Mango Latitudes” split from us not long after dark on the first night.

“Mango Latitudes” went west, “Niki” went south, while we stayed on our rhumbline course.  Sunday morning to our disbelief, and delight, Mango Latitudes crossed astern and continued on a more southerly course. We continued in light to moderate breeze through the rest of the race.

Monday Morning as we neared “Isla”, I came on deck for the change of watch at 6:00am.  I grabbed the “Long Eyes” (binoculars) and scanned the horizon.  I spotted a boat on the horizon to the south, she was carrying a yellow & black Spinnaker.  I thought “Holy _ _ _ T”  it was NIKI, the Oyster 65!  Then as I scanned more westerly, I spotted the big Irwin, Mango Latitudes.   The crew was elated, if we could see them, we could beat them.

We crossed the finish line Monday, just after 2:00pm local time, just a little over an hour after our competition. We arrived at the dock to discover we were only the 7th boat to finish.  When all was said and done, we ended up  1st in class and 1st in Monohulls.  The only boat that beat us overall was a Multihull.  But we couldn’t complain, afterall it took them two hulls to get there!

The Parties after the race on “Isla” are fantastic.  Plenty to eat and drink, and the camaraderie of the other sailors is beyond compare.  So, remember it is possible to race and win in comfort!  Winning isn’t everything,  ——–AH, who am I kidding, it sure beats losing!!!

JADE  is a well fitted-out, fast cruising “Yacht” with all the amenities for comfort and the proper gear for offshore sailing.  JSI & Island Nautical were in essence part of the crew.   Jade sports a custom JSI Mast & rigging, a Leisure Furl roll boom, Hood Headsail Furling System, and full Doyle Ploch Sail inventory.   The crew was also comfortable under a JSI Custom Bimini and Dodger.  Our Navigation was also enhanced by a full complement of up to date Ray Marine electronics.

Jade also sports a water maker, 3 staterooms, 2 heads with separate showers, a well appointed galley with fridge & freezer, and a Flat screen TV, all for crew comfort.

Written by: Tim Stodola – Manager, Island Nautical Marine Store

A report from the JSI SPAR shop..

 

JSI’s spar shop has had a busy 2012

All of our spars are custom made to order and are shipped throughout the US and the Caribbean. We begin with raw aluminum tube that we buy direct from the mill and then custom fabricate and weld the structural components rather than fasten on pre-made cast parts.  After all the milling and welding is complete the masts are primed with a two part epoxy and finished in Imron or Awlgrip resulting is a very durable but elegant finished product.

Most of our masts  are for boats 38′ and up. Recent projects have included; New York 65, Roberts 53, Roberts 43, Morgan 44 and we are currently finishing our fifth set  of spars for the Shannon 53.

Please stop by and visit if you are in our area or call (800-652-4914) if you have any questions.

Cleaning the foam in those funky smelling CUSHIONS

Many boats have interiors that have developed that funky diesel/bilgewater smell. The odor permeates any porous surface in the boat, including the bulkheads and the cushions. Now would be a good idea to clean the foam.

If you are sailing in a salt water area, salts from seawater, along with body salts, get into the foam and hold moisture. The foam also tends to get that funky smell, even after just a few years. If you have a swimming pool or Jacuzzi, chlorinate the water and insert each piece of foam and leave for 15 or 20 minutes. Remove and stand on edge to dry. Do not lay flat, as it will take longer for water to evacuate when laying in its own puddle. If you have a pool, you likely have a drain around the deck. Stand the foam up over the drain and the water will just drain away.

If you don’t have a pool, go to a big box store and buy a blow up pool. Preferably one that is at least 6×8 feet. Fill it with enough water to cover your foam. Pour in a half bottle of bleach and insert a piece of foam. Since you will need to reuse the water for each piece, you will need to try to reclaim as much water out of each piece of foam, rather that sending it down the drain.  

It will likely take 24 hours for the foam to dry. Once it has stopped weeping water, you may be able to move it to a climate controlled area. That should help get the last bit of moisture out.

The above process has proven to even get rid of diesel odors.

For some more tips go to CUSHIONS page on our web site…

Tropical Storm Debby.. a reminder…

Recently the Tampa bay area had a brush with Tropical Storm DEBBY. First of all it was a reminder that no matter what the weather gurus say. ANY Tropical Storm is a problem..

Our area got anywhere from 8″ to 12″ of rain in a 48hr period.

Island Nautical, JSI and Doyle Sails came through OK, others were not as lucky.

Tornados sunk boats and blew the roof off the Pass a Grille Marina.

Everyone that lives in an area ending in “isles” or “keys” quickly found out why the areas had those names. The key was to watch the tides and come and go (if you had a truck) at the low tides.

Even though most of us are tuned into tropical weather here. This caught us all by surprise. Maybe a good wakeup call…

My new favorite weather links…http://www.wunderground.com/wundermap/   and http://spaghettimodels.com/

Below are a few pictures…

Welcome to the JSI … Island Nautical Blog

Welcome……

We decided that we have so many interesting projects, trips,  etc. that we need to have a better way to document them. So here we go. We will be adding to this blog once a week. So sign up to be notified when we have added to the blog.

We also have an “Ask the Experts” section. So if you have a question please send it to us.

The JSI / Island Nautical Team