St. Barth’s Super Yacht Regatta

Photos by Carlo Borlenghi

St. Barths, French West Indies

Today was the final day of racing of the St. Barth’s Bucket, the annual Super Yacht regatta down here in the Caribbean.

I sailed as tactician onboard Rosehearty, once again, with my friend Joey Kaempfer and a fantastic team. We trained a bit on Wednesday and Thursday last week and had one race a day beginning on Friday.

The breeze was 18-20 knots from the east for the first two days. A tactical mistake by me on Friday gave us a third place finish, while our rival Perini Navi, Perseus, won the race and Meteor took second.

Perseus, Zenji, Maltese Flacon, and Rosehearty are all Perini Navi yachts from the famous yard in Viareggio, Italy. They are beautiful sailing yachts. Rosehearty and Zenji are sister ships at 56 meters (182′) and 500 tons of displacement. Perseus is 60 meters and Maltesse Falcon is 80 meters. All are exquisitely appointed and also very seaworthy capable of voyages anywhere in the world including the Northwest Passage and Antarctica.

Hatch open

Getting the spinnaker out of one of the forward hatches

Saturday was redemption day for Rosehearty was we got the bullet but not before a match race up the last windward leg, covering a fast approaching “Meteor. Meteor is a classic Schooner design built by Royal Huisman in Holland.

That put Meteor and Rosehearty in a tie for first going into today’s final race with Perseus 2 points back in third. Today’s course, clockwise around the island, is mostly upwind and favors Perseus so it was nice to have the 2 points on them. But it would be a duel with Meteor. The winds were considerably lighter at 12-18 knots from the east-southeast.

We had a good start and first downwind leg, passing Zenji, who rates just a bit lower and got a 30 seconds head-start on us. On the long windward leg up the north side of the island to the east end, we played the right side, ducking in and out of the small islands on that side, while our competitors went out to open water to the North. We benefited from smoother water and held the lead in our class as we rounded the northeast end of St. Barths. Meteor and Perseus were sailing fast and had closed in on us. Meteor, unfortunately for them, got tangled up in a bit of traffic and had to take another tack out to sea when we fetched the top of the island.

Perseus, closed to within 4 boats lengths as we round the last mark of the course. Our spinnaker set was perfect and theirs was not. Chapeau to the crew of Rosehearty! They make those of us up in the flybridge look good.

We pulled away from Perseus but Meteor continued to bear down on us sailing lower and faster. Perseus finally got their spinnaker set and started to come back into us a bit. We were never overly concerned about Perseus as we could afford to finish one place behind them and still win the regatta. What we could not afford to do was to be passed by Meteor. On the final maneuver of the race, Perseus’ spinnaker exploded as we both gybed for the finish. Meteor kept closing. It was a bit tense onboard, everyone wondering if Meteor would catch us. About one mile from the finish, it was clear that Meteor would run out of race track. Rosehearty ran down to the finish to take the win on the day and overall in our class.

St. Barths Bucket Race Day 2

 

This is the third time we have won our class in the Bucket on Rosehearty and it was clearly the toughest as the other teams are improving each year.  While we will be enjoying the win for a while, we will have to step up our game for next year.

I will be transiting to Sydney over the next 40 hours to race with the Beau Geste team in the Australian IRC national Championship starting Thursday.

Paul

Sydney Harbor Series

Sydney

Last summer, my results were pretty bad on the TP52 Phoenix. I was feeling pretty down about it all and looking forward to getting back on a winning path this spring. When the owner sold the boat, that closed the door on redemption, seemingly.

Then I got asked to come down to Sydney and race as helmsman on another TP52, for the IRC national championship. The boat and team are very well known…Beau Geste out of Hong Kong. Gavin Brady is the team leader and the team is full of great sailors.

We managed to get a win this weekend and coupled with my win the Star a few weeks ago, it feels like I am getting back on my bike.

This past weekend we raced Beau Geste in the Sydney Harbor Series as a tune up for the IRC Nationals later this month.  While there were just a handful of competitors in our class this weekend, we expect 15 or more in two weeks time, with 8 of them being TP52’s.

It was very windy Saturday which forced the race committee to keep us inside the Harbor. Sydney Harbor is a very busy place on weekends. The race area was quite compressed for boats the size and speed of a TP52, so the theee lap, 0.75 nm leg races, in 25 knots of wind, were intense. At 20 knots of speed, the downwind legs lasted four minutes.  There were ferries, rocks, and a hundred other boats in 10 classes, all serving as obstacles at one point or another. It was the kind of racing where you could get the kite up and then decide it’s too windy or there is a ferry in the way, and you drop the kite to gybe. On one run our A4 simply exploded when we a 28 knot gust hit us.

On Sunday, while still raining, the wind had moderated and shifted southwest which made it possible, or let’s say reasonable, to race in the big swells off the Sydney Heads. Again two races were held but the course was stretched out to 1 mile legs. It was still windy enough that we went down one of the runs without the kite.

The 18′ skiffs were racing their World Champinship on the harbor this past week. With a few of the Beau Gesta boys, we went around to the Double Bay Skiff Club last night for their prize giving. I met up with 5 time skiff world champion Andrew Buckland who had taken me sailing on a skiff in San Francisco in 1979. Hadn’t seen him since. Pretty fun what life serves up sometimes. Andrew introduced me to a few of the young guys who are now dominating this iconic class. 18’s have been the ultimate dinghy for a hundred years. If you don’t know what an 18 is, you should Google it. They are very impresssive boats. Howie Hamlin and Skip McCormick, long time friends from California, were racing so I caught up with them as well.

I am headed back to SF today and then back down here in 2 weeks time.

Paul

 

Levin Final

Photo by Marco Oquendo

Coconut Grove

The wind had difficulty materializing this morning but we finally got one race going around 12:40 in 6 knots of wind from the southeast.

After yesterday’s results, things were tight at the top and with the fickle conditions today, anything could have happened.

Danny and I had a decent start and shortly after tacked to port to head right, in the middle of the fleet.  The wind was fickle and dropping in strength as we neared the windward mark. We rounded about 7th with Augie Diaz in front of us. Augie blazed down the run as usual and rounded the gate with a big lead. At this point the regatta was his.

Racing in conditions like this is very challenging.  It is not hard to get a few things wrong and find yourself back in the pack.  We were very lucky as most everything we did this weekend turned to gold.

On the second windward leg, Augie and Arnie went to the right and Danny and I stayed a bit more to the left. This worked out for us and we passed Augie. Down the final run to the finish, Augie again super fast, passed us to finish third but our 4th was all we needed to win the regatta.  Gris Dolf and Luke Lawrence won the race with Larry Whipple and Austin Sperry in second.

I haven’t had this much enjoyment from sailing in a while. I experienced this when I raced with both Danny and Allie to Hawaii, twice. That was 10 years ago.

Next for me is IRC racing with the Beau Geste team in Austrailia at the end of the month.

For complete results go to www.yachtscoring.com.

Paul

 

Levin Memorial

Photos by Marco Oquendo

Coconut Grove

Three races were held today on Biscayne Bay for the Star class. A relatively large fleet of 33 boats were on the race track this morning ready to take on the mild easterly winds.

I am sailing with my son Danny this weekend. Yesterday I flew to Miami from Bermuda where I spent the week visiting my daughter Allie; so I just have to say it, I am having a GREAT week!

IMG_6521

 

Danny and I started the weekend off the way you dream of; winning the first race. We were first to the first mark but it was back and forth the whole race and were only recaptured the lead from Whipple/Sperry in the last 100 meters.

In race two, we had another good start and played the shifts well to finish second to Andy MacDonnald and Brad Nichol who had a great day with a 5, 1, 2.

Star Winter Series

Star Winter Series

In the third race, I got a bad start but we dug our way out to round the first mark about 6th. The wind was light and fickle, perfect for Danny and I being 50 pounds light. We managed to pass two boats and finish 4th. George Szabo sailed well to win that one.

At the end of day one, Danny and I are leading.  It is tight though. The top three boats are separated by 2 points.  As you can imagine, I could not be a happier father!

Tomorrow’s forecast is 8-9 knots from the southeast. Perfect conditions for Pencil Neck Racing. (Fun name for being light)

For complete scores go to www.yachtscoring.com

Paul

Star Midwinter Championship

Photos Marco Oquendo

Coconut Grove

Three races were scheduled but only two races were held today on Biscayne Bay before the wind pipped up ahead of a front that will hit Miami tonight.

The first race started at 10:30 in 12 knots from the southwest. Josh and I had great speed and got to the first mark second. Alberto Zanetti of Argentina, with Mark Stube crewing, led and held the lead down the first run. On the second windward leg, our speed showed through and we grabbed the lead and held on down the run to the finish.  Charlie Buckingham, (little Buck) sailing with Austin “Hoss” Sperry, sailed very fast on the final run to pass Zanetti and finish second. George Szabo finished 4th, Jim Buckingham (Big Buck) finished 5th and Augie Diaz, the regatta leader, finished 6th.  Things were tightening up.

In the second race we had a bad start and had one of our competitors tack on us right as we tacked to clear our air coming off the line.  We then got tangled up with another boat in an unfortunate situation. We did a penalty turn. Needless to say, at this point we were deep.

Star Winter Series

Photos of Fridays drifting contest

Star Winter Series

Jack Jennings and Frthijof Kleen sailed fast the lead at the first mark.  Diaz and Zanetti were up in the front with the Buck Family.  We sailed fast and rounded the first mark about 10th and passed a couple more boats down the run and up the next windward leg to round the last mark 4th.  Our speed upwind in the freshening breeze was excellent.  Down the final run I stuck the bow into a couple of waves and filled the boat top with water.  This ultimately cost us Big Buck and we finished 5th.  Jennings and Kleen won the race with Zanetti second, Diaz third, Big Buck 4th, Josh and I 5th and Szabo 6th.  The Race committee called it for the day as a couple of boats had lost their masts on the final lap.

We are in 4th place at this point. Tomorrow, two or three races could be sailed however the forecast is for very strong wind.  Unfortunately Josh and I won’t be racing anymore in this regatta as I am headed to Italy tonight to make a speech on Monday in Napoli.

For complete results go to www.yachtscoring.com

Paul

 

 

Star Mid Winter Championship

Photos Marco Oquendo

Coconut Grove

Only one race was held today on Biscayne Bay and it was trying.  The race committee postponed ashore again today waiting for wind and finally around 13:30 a feeble southeasterly breeze filled in at 5 knots. The wind died throughout the race to less than 1 knot at the finish.

Josh and I had a good start and sailed well to lead at the first mark.  The wind was getting spotty on the first downwind leg and Augie Diaz found good pressure off the the right side and moved from 6th to a close second.  Josh and I held the lead at the second windward mark with Augie and Arnie right in our tail but with a huge gap back to third by this time.

The wind dropped to 2 knots at this point. 3/4’s of the way down the  final run to the finish, Augie gybed away, again to the right, and it was too light to cover (match). The little wind that there was then shifted 60 degrees in his favor and he won the race. Jack Jennings passed us as well. We were lucky to get 3rd as the wind kept shifting and we almost could not get to the finish line.

We finished 6th over all for the Walker Cup and are in that position going into the final two days of the Mid Winter Championship.

Star Winter Series

Star Winter Series-Thursday

Tomorrow’s forecast is for 12-15 knots from the South Southwest. We should be able to get three races in. Sundays forecast is for strong wind. Unfortunately I have to leave tomorrow night so Sundays forecast doesn’t really matter to us.

For complete results go to www.yachtscoring.com

Paul

Star Mid Winter Championship

Coconut Grove

Josh and I are back at it here in Miami in the Star Mid Winter Championship, four days of racing with up to 8 races in total.  The first two days races will count for the Bob Levin Memorial trophy.  Today’s racing was delayed while the race committee waited for the northwesterly wind to die and the southeasterly sea breeze to fill.  This made the start of race 1 around 13:00 in 7 knots.  The sea was flat and the maximum wind of the day was about 15:00 at 8 knots.

In the first race, Josh and I sailed pretty well and got up into the lead half way up the first leg. But  a couple mistakes that kept us from winning.  We finished 4th behind George Szabo in first, Charlie Buckingham in 2nd and Jack Jennings in 3rd.  Buck senior was 5th.

In race 2, we were in a group of four boats called over early at the start down at the pin end of the line.  The race committee took about 45 seconds to make the call (which they are not required to do but do regularly within 10-15 seconds).  This put us and the other three boats about 1:30 behind the 26 boat fleet by the time we started.  There was nothing remarkable about either race today so making a comeback in the second race was tough.

George Szabo leads the regatta with 6 points, Jack Jennings in 2nd with 7 and Augie Diaz, the current World Champion, in 3rd with 10 points.  Josh and I got back to 15th in the 2nd race so we are in 10th overall with 19 points.

Tomorrow’s forecast is for light sea breeze to fill in the afternoon again.  Saturday is supposed to be 14-16 knots from the south and Sunday is forecast to be 22-26 knots with gusts well over 30 knots from the north northwest.

Four complete results go to; http://www.yachtscoring.com/event_results_cumulative.cfm?eID=2926

Paul

 

Star Sailors League-Day 4

Nassau, Bahamas

Today was the final day of the Qualification Series at the SSL Final and it didn’t go as well as Josh and I hoped for.  We ended up where we started the day… in 15th.  We had glimpses of upward movement; leading at the first mark of the first race. But I forgot to go back to the well on the second windward leg and ended up 8th in a race that we led in.  That just means we didn’t sail well enough and here you have to sail very well in order to move on.

Ironically we had a poor start in the first race today and got to the first mark first.  That wasn’t all speed.  That was a bit of luck! In the second race, we had a great start and got to the first mark 20th.  The wind was a light northeasterly starting at 7 knots and fading to as little as 4 knots.  In the first race the right side was favored and in the second race the left side was favored.  Tricky!

Tomorrow, the top 10 teams from the qualifying series will race.  8 teams (3-10) will race the quarter final, while the top 2 from the qualification series are qualified into the later rounds. The winner of the qualification series, Diego Negri (ITA), has a spot in the final and the runner up, Mark Mendelblatt(USA), has a spot straight into the semi finals. From the quarter final race, 6 will move onto the semi final where they will be joined by Mendelblatt and from that race, 3 will move onto the final where they will be joined by Negri.  The winner of the SSL Final will be the boat that crosses the finish line first in the final race.

I think this format is very good for big events like the Olympics.  Trying to explain to the public that the winner of the “Medal” race isn’t the Gold Medalist because some other guy sailed really well for 6 days before the grand finale, is tough.

The Star Sailors League is great for our sport.  The format is right on the money. The Star is the perfect platform for creating a level playing field for athletes as diverse, physically, as Laser, Finn, Star, Soling,  and 470 sailors.   This event is becoming a true “World Championship” in sailing as it pits the best of the best against each other. There is a lot of enthusiasm around this event; the young guys are really excited to be racing the “legends” and the legends are just happy to still be out there.

My next event will be the Star Mid Winter Championship in Miami, January 5-8, 2017.

I wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season!

Paul

STAR SAILORS LEAGUE FINALS 2016

STAR SAILORS LEAGUE
FINALS 2016

Star Sailors League Finals

Nassau, Bahamas

Three races were held today on Montague Bay for the Star fleet. The southeasterly winds were considerably lighter than the previous days at 8 knots dropping to as little as 4 knots by the end of the day.

Mark Medleblatt and Brian Fatih sailed very consistently to take the lead in the series while Robert Scheidt, Diego Negri and Xavier Rohart each had at least one bad race.

Josh and I had a better day with all three races in the top 10.  Contrary to what one might think, light air is very difficult. A little wind shift or change in wind velocity makes a huge difference.  The turbulence off the sails produces relatively more impact than in stronger winds so managing your position on the race course and relative to the fleet is critical. And finally, you have to sit very still and concentrate which is exhausting in the heat here in Nassau.

One other feature for the second and third races of the day was that rule 42 was in effect as the wind lightened. This eliminated the downwind gymnastics that were employed in the first 7 races. The on the water umpires were very attentive and penalized a few boats for violating rule 42. To not violate rule 42 (pumping, rocking and ouching) in these conditions you pretty much have to sit motionless downwind unless you are gybing.

With our better performance, Josh and I moved up to 15th overall but we are still 14 points out of the critical 10th place to qualify for the quarter finals on Saturday.   The forecast for tomorrow is for very light winds again. Two races are scheduled to finish the qualification series.

For complete results go to www.results.starsailors.com

Paul

Star Sailors League Finals

Nassau, Bahamas

Four races were held today outside Montegue Bay offf the east end of New Providence Island.  The wind was easterly at 14 knots for the first race dropping to 7  knots for the fourth race.  There was a 15 degree persistent shift to the southeast as the day went on.

Josh and I didn’t have a great day.  We didn’t seem to have speed upwind and I am not going to win the sail fanning contest downwind against the Laser and Finn Sailors.  In this regatta, it is open season on pumping, rocking and ouching so it is like a gymnastics competition downwind.

Our worst race is a 17th yet we slid in the overall standings down to 19th. The discard kicked in today and we don’t have any top 10 races.  Hopefully there will be enough wind tomorrow and on Friday to race five more races and finish the schedule.  We are just 4 points out of 12th so plenty of vertical movement is possible for us.

We took our mast down tonight after sailing to check it and found a few things slightly off so we adjusted it for more power and put it back up in the dark. We will use our light air mainsail tomorrow also.

Robert Scheidt took over the lead in the series today. He and Mark Mendelblatt seem to be the fastest to me. Obviously they are sailing well too.  Diego Negri of Italy has good speed and is in second overall.  The top three are in a league of their own so far.

For complete results go to www.finals.starsailors.com

Paul