Battling the kelp today. Marco Oquendo photo

Coconut Grove

Race 4 was held today for the 73 competitors in the Star World Championship on Biscayne Bay.  The winds were light again blowing in from the southeast at 7-8 knots.

I felt like it was going to be good on the left today so we started down the line a bit and “owned” the left.  We were in very good shape half way up the first leg and could have crossed over to the right but all that we were seeing was good on the left so we kept at it. That turned out to be a bad call.

About 5 minutes later the wind shifted 15 degrees to the right and stayed there.  Brian and I were 35th at the first mark.  Brian Ledbetter and Josh Revkin were fast and on the right and had a nice lead at the first mark.  The were followed closely by the usual suspects of Diego Negri, Augie Diaz and Lars Grael.

As the race went on, Brian and I had our ups and downs but managed to pass about half of those in front of us to finish 18th.  Negri got past Ledbetter in the final quarter of the last leg to take the win.  Augie Diaz continued his consistent performance with a third.

Things are getting tight at the top.  Diaz, Negri and Ledbetter are all within just a few points of each other.  Two races are left to finish the series.  None of those three has ever won the World Championship.  The winds are forecast to stay light for the rest of the Championship.  Should get interesting!

For complete results go to www.yachtscoring.com

Paul

Skin cancer awareness has hit the Star Class and we are all wearing these neck and face covers. Photo was from Race 2. Photo by Marco Oquendo.

Coconut Grove

Day 3 of the Star World Championship started off without wind.  The fleet waited for over an hour before we could attempt to get a race started.  Finally around 1:00pm the wind came in from 100 at about 7 knots.

The course for today was the same as yesterday, course 3, which is 3 windward legs and two downwind legs….finish to windward.

The left side of the line was a bit favored but the right side had more pressure (wind).  It is a tough call when the starting line is half a mile long!

Brian and I adjusted our rig a bit for todays conditions, loosening the shrouds to power up the rig.  Most teams probably did this as today’s conditions were in stark contrast to yesterday’s.  We were happy with our speed today.

The wind was once again shifty as it comes over Key Biscayne on its way to the race course when it is in the easterly direction.  The wind is “tumbling” and there are strange “micro bursts” than can “auto tack the boat as the wind shift can be 40 degrees but only last for 5 seconds.

Augie Diaz is building up the regatta of his life.  He is fast and sailing smart.  Bruno Prada is a two time Star World Champion crew and not only are they good, but they have confidence.  This is what it takes to win in this class.  You have to put it all together at the right time and that’s what Augie and Bruno are doing.  Augie changed boats just over a month ago to a new Folli and this seems to be a key move in his bid to win a Star World Championship.

Brian Ledbetter and Josh Revkin had the early lead on the left side of the course but Augie was leading on the right. The Italian’s, Negri and Lambertenghi, were close behind. Down the first run, Augie and Bruno put 100 meters on the with two but that wasn’t by no means the end of it.  The winds are so fickle that one could easily loose a lead out there.

Brian and I had a decent start albeit a bit conservative as the black flag was up once again.  We were about 10th at the first mark and finished 7th.  There were a few ups and downs in there…we may have gotten as far back as 15th.  It was just so hard to tell if the right or the left would be favored at any given moment.

So at the half way mark, Augie Diaz and Bruno Prada are leading with 8 points, the Italians are in 2nd with 14 points and Andy MacDonnald with Brad Nichol crewing in 3rd its 24. The current World Champions, Lars Grael and Samuel Conclaves are in 4th.  Brian and I are in 30th place with 94 points, but when the discard kicks in after race 5, assuming we don’t have another horrendous race like the first one, we will be discarding 73 points.  This will move us up substantially.

Brian and I were pretty happy with todays race given how tricky the conditions were.  But getting 7th isn’t going to do it for us. We have to try to improve on that on Thursday.

Tomorrow is a lay day in the schedule.  So racing resumes at 11:30 Thursday.  All the teams will be checking over their gear tomorrow and relaxing a bit.

For complete results go to www.yachtscoring.com

At this time, the forecast for Thursday is 8-9 knots from the south east.

Paul

 

 

Coconut Grove

Race 2 of the 2016 Star World Championship was held today on Biscayne Bay.  At start time, 11:30, the wind was in at 16 knots from 085 and stayed pretty much the same all race.  Having said that, there were 15 degree oscillations and 4 knot changes in windspeed.  It was still a very shifty race course with the wind coming over Key Biscayne once again.  The sea was very choppy, especially on starboard tack and this made it difficult to keep the boat going fast upwind.

The fleet got away cleanly on the first start today. The left side of the line was favored by 5 degrees and over the length of 2400′, that makes a difference. Also, the first shift came from the left.  2014 World Champions Robert Stanjeck and Frithjof Kleen got off the line well, hit the first shift and amassed a dominant lead within the first 10 minutes of the race.  Not far behind was Torben Grael and his crew Guilherme de Almeida. These two never changed positions for the rest of the race. This result keeps them in the game for the over all after being disqualified like Brian and I yesterday. Being out in front is always good but especially so when the wind is shifty as you can always tack on the shifts as there is no traffic to deal with.

Brian and I were a bit conservative off the line and too far to the right.  three quarters of the way up the first leg, we were in tough with the group around 7th place.  But I got off to the right too far and the wind went left at the very end of the leg.  So we rounded that first mark about 20th.  I did not sail very smart today.  We were out of phase most of the time.  On the last leg we did sail well and made up a huge out of distance but only passed about 4 boats to finish 14th.  I am not overly pleased with this result.  Basically with these first two races it will be very difficult for us to be in the hunt for the championship. There will be one discard after five races are completed so that will help all of us who were “black flagged” yesterday.

Augie Diaz, with Bruno Prada crewing, sailed fast to move from 7th to 4th as the race went on.  They now lead the Championship with 7 points.  Luke Lawrence and Ian Coleman also posted another great score with a 6th and they are now in second place. George Szabo and Steve Mitchell, yesterdays winners were 9th today and are in 3rd overall.  Diego Negri is tied with Szabo.

The weather is forecast to change pretty dramatically with 10 knots of wind on tap for tomorrow.  This will be interesting to see the fleet in a different conditions.

For complete results go to www.yachtscoriing.com

Paul

Coconut Grove

Coral Reef Yacht Club is hosting the 2016 Star World Championship this week.  75 boats from 13 countries are competing with 8 former World Champions in the lineup.

The format is one race a day with a lay day mid way through the week. Today was the first race.

The wind was blowing 16 knots from 085 at 11:30 which is start time.  We had two general recalls and then the black flag came out for the third start.

The starting line is divided into two section for this event.  There is a race committee boat right in the middle of a very long line.  The two halves are actually two separate lines.  Brian and I started just to windward of the “midline” boat about 3 seconds late.  There was a bit of action around us at the start…namely Torben Grael who sailed over the top of the mid line race committee boat 6 seconds before the start.  Torben was not a problem for us because we were late, but we had a tough time squeezing up around the mid-line boat and almost got rolled by the boat to windward of us.   Once we got clear, we were able to bear off a bit and get up to speed.

We were then pinned to the left by the boats to windward but the left side turned out to be ok. We battled George Szabo all the way up the first leg, both of us tacking on the shifts as this breeze came off Key Biscayne.  At the first mark we were leading with Brian Cramer in second and George Szabo third.

As we rounded the mark, Rick Burgess, crewing for Brian Cramer, was yelling at us that we were over early at the start.  At a boat near the windward mark, there were 7 numbers posted as premature starters.  Brain and I were shocked to see our bow number listed.

We retired immediately as that is what is required by the rules, but we knew we were not over the line early so it was tough to leave the race course while leading.  George Szabo went on to sail well and win the race. Two great young sailors who said with me on Rosehearty a couple of weeks ago in St. Barths, Luke Lawrence and Ian Coleman finished second and the King of Miami, Augie Diaz, moved up well throughout the race to finish 3rd.

When I got back to the dock, I asked for a hearing with the jury to query the race committee on what they saw.  I also had two witnesses of my own; skippers of two boats who started just to windward of us.  Both of my witnesses stated that they could see the race committee boat and line flag in front of our bow at the instant of the starting gun.  Neither of these boats were called over early.

The final witness was the race committee official calling the line from the mid-line boat.  There were several inconsistencies in his testimony, the most alarming of which was that he could not see the other end of the line that he uses to identify the line, from 15 second prior to the start because his sight was blocked by other boats.

After hearing the entirety of the line callers testimony, coupled with the witness that I called, I was certain we would be exonerated.  The decision by the jury was short: everything was done properly by the race committee and my request for redress was denied.  None of the testimony by any of the witnesses was included in the jury’s findings.

This obviously leaves Brian and I in a very difficult position for the championship.   The good news is that Brian and I seem to have good speed.  The forecast is for more of the same, maybe a touch lighter in the 15 knots range still out of the east.

For complete results go to www.yachtscoring.com

Paul

 

 

 

St. Barths, French West Indies

Another perfect day today with winds a bit further right coming out of 130 at up to 20 knots.

The course for the final race was clockwise around the archipelago of St. Barths.

For the third time, Peter Holmberg and I devised a good strategy to get clear of the traffic starting just in front of us in this pursuit racing format.  We opted to start on port gybe while those just in front of us went off on starboard gybe.  When we came back together, Rosehearty was already in the lead; traffic free.

On the long upwind leg up th north side of St. Barths, we suffered a break down.  The tack fitting on the genoa broke and we were forced to furl that sail and sail with the staysail up wind.  Needless to say this was quite  loss in performance for the hour that remained of upwind sailing.

Seahawk sailed very well and fast to win todays race.  Our closest rival, Ohana, finished second again.  Perseus 3 was third while we finished 4th and Meteor 5th.

Rosehearty tied Ohana on points for the overall win, but won by virtue of our two first place finishes on day 1 and 2.  Thats about as close as it gets!

The crew did an outstanding job of dealing with today’s adversity and kept the maneuvers tight so we could preserve the 4th place we needed to win overall.  A very happy owner and all concerned.

That is my final report for a few weeks.  Next up for me is the Star World Championship starting April 10th.

Paul

St. Barthelemy French West Indies

Another beautiful day for sailing down in the Caribbean.  Today the winds were slightly more to the right at 110 and 15 knots.

The course for the today is known as the “not so wiggly” course.  The fleet starts downwind to the west and goes around some rock at the far end of the archipelago before heading upwind to the north east.  From there it is a sort of chicane of spinnaker up, spinnaker down, spinnaker up and spinnaker down again all in less that one hour which is hectic on a 182′ boat that weighs 500 tonnes.  Actually, very wiggly!

The result was the same as yesterday.  Rosehearty first and Ohana second by less than a minute. The ups and down were numerous. Suffice it to say the crew won the day for us on Rosehearty.  Our maneuvers were the best of the fleet.  Nothing missed!

Tomorrow for the final race, the course should be one complete circumnavigation in the clockwise direction.  Forecast the same…more perfectness.

For complete results go to http://www.bucketregattas.com/stbarths/results.html

 

Paul

Saint Barthelemy, French West Indies

Today was day 1 of the 2016 Super Yacht Bucket.  I am sailing onboard Rosehearty with Joey Kempfer for the third time in a year.  36 Super Yachts are here racing divided into 5 classes.  Super yachts are yacht more that 100 feet in length and typically quite luxurious. Rosehearty is a 182′ long catch, built by Perini Navi in Viareggio, Italy in 2006.

The J-Boats had ether own class then the rest of the fleet is divided up according to vintage and performance.  Rosehearty is in the “Grande Dammes” class. The other classes are names like Gazelles and Mademoiselle.

The wind was 15 knots from the East with a flat sea but long swell underneath.

The racing here at the Bucket is pursuit racing.  This means that the lowest rated boat starts first and all the subsequent starts are delayed by the handicap of the yacht multiplied by the length of the course in nautical miles.  So a yacht that “owes” a smaller yacht 10 seconds per mile will start 150 seconds behind the smaller yacht on a 15 mile course.  Then, the order in which the yachts cross the finish line is the finishing order.

The course today was counterclockwise around the Island. All the boats in our class started well. This means they are on time and right on the line at their respective starting signals.  It is not easy to maneuver these 500 tonnes yachts and hit the line at full speed right on time.

Onboard Rosehearty, we have Peter Holmberg steering this regatta and I am in my usual role as tactician.  Pete got us a perfect start and did a good job of keeping our height so we could keep clear air of the yachts in front of us on the 15 minute port tack.

In various ways we passed all 5 of the yachts that started in front of us by the end of the 30 minute windward leg.  We held our lead on the run down the north side of St. Barths.  Seahawk, Perseus  and Ohana who are all fast and started behind us were gaining on us.  Up the last windward leg, Ohana sailed closer to the wind that we could and closed to within two boat lengths at the finish.  It was a bit more exciting that we had hoped but nonetheless, Rosehearty got the win!

Then Perseus and Seahawks finished overlapped!  From the results of today’s race, it looks like the handicaps are pretty good in our class.

Tomorrow we will probably have a running start and go clockwise around the island. The forecast is for more of the perfect Caribbean conditions.

I’ll try to get some photos of this spectacle for my report tomorrow.

Paul

Coconut Grove

Another perfect day for sailing today on Biscayne Bay with 12 knots of wind to from the southeast and sunshine.

The final race was for all the marbles.  Robert Stanjeck with Fritjof Kleen (GER) up front and Diego Negri with Sergio Lambertenghi (ITA) were tied and no one else could beat either of them. Augie Diaz was in third and I woke up to find out I was in fifth place after going to bed in fourth place.  Last night, the Jury had awarded Torben Greal redress after he was hit by a give way boat in race 5.  He was in 10th place at the time and the jury awarded him 4th place for the race.  It  was a bit hard to comprehend.  Anyway,  we beat him today so that wasn’t an issue for us.

After our customary one general recall, the race committee put up the Black Flag. The Germans shot off the line and were never headed.  The led wire to wire.  The Italian’s were in the top four at the first mark and worked their way up to second by the end of the race.

Brian and I tried a loser rig today and it wasn’t good.  We had mediocre speed upwind and were in 20th after the first lap of the race. We hit a nice shift on the right side up the second beat to round the top mark the second time around 12th.  By the end of the race we had moved up to 10h with Torben and Guilherme in 13th.  Augie Diaz and Bruno Prada finished 6th in todays race so the remained comfortable in third for the series.

For complete results go to www.yachtscoring.com

Tomorrow I am headed to St. Barths for the Bucket where I will rejoin the Rosehearty Team where I serve as tactician.  We had a successful year last year on Rosehearty, being top Perini at St. Barts and winning the Perini Cup in Porto Cervo in September.  My America’s Cup team mate from 2003, Peter Holmberg will be joining us as helmsman.  I always enjoy sailing with Pete.

I’ll will start back up with the reports on Friday.

Paul

 

 

 

photo by Cory Silken

Coconut Grove

Two races were held today on Biscayne Bay for the Star fleet. The conditions were perfect for the Stars, Southeast winds starting at 16 knots in the first race of the day and dropping to 10 knots by the end of the second race.

Diego Negri and his crew, Sergio Lambertenghi, were in a class of their own today winning both races.  The German team finished 6th and 3rd.  So going into tomorrow these two teams are tied for the lead and intact, no one else can beat them.

Brian and I thought we had a good day with a 4, 2 but we found out upon arriving back at the dock that we had be Black Flagged in the first race of the day and therefore disqualified.  Fortunately there is one discard in this series so two are discarding the black flag.

In the second race, we were always battling around 4th or 5th but then down the final run to the finish we passed 3 boats to finish second.

Augie Diaz and Bruno Prada were also Black Flagged in the first race today and finished 4th in the second race.  The have a four point lead on us going in to tomorrow’s final race.

In 5th is Brad Funk and Mark Strube.  Brad is a Laser and 49er sailor, new to the Star class.  They are sailing very well in this Bacardi Cup and finished with a 2, 8 today.

Tomorrows forecast for Biscayne Bay is 13 knots form the southeast with the temperatures in the high 70’s.

For complete results go to www.yachtscoring.com

Paul

Photo by Cory Silken from Tuesday’s race. Cayard/Fatih in bow 41 in 18 knots of wind.

Coconut Grove

The wind was blowing hard all night and early this morning.  The Race Committee put up the postponement flag at 0900 and at 11:00 called it for the day.  This is a good call for the fleet on the whole.  While the top 25% of the fleet could race in 25 knots, many of the participants would either not go out or would go out and possibly incur damage.  If you break your mast, that is an $8K outing.  Good call by the race committee.

However, tomorrow we will have two races. These races are World Championship length races; 10.7 nm.  Each race takes about 1:45. So it will be a long and physical day.  The first start will be at 11:00 rather than the usual 12:00.

The forecast is for 17 knots from the southeast at 10:00 dropping to 11 knots by 16:00.  It should be a beautiful day for racing Stars.

Star Class 8506 and 8510 sailing at Bacardi Miami Sailing Week.

Star Class 8506-Cayard and 8510-Grael sailing at Bacardi Miami Sailing Week. Photo by Cory Silken

Someone will have to make a move tomorrow if the Germans are to be beaten.  There is one discard in this series so two top 5 finishes for the Germans and they may not even have to go out for the 6th race on Saturday. But sailing is usually anything but straight forward.  We still half the series to go!

For complete scores, go to www.yachtscoring.com

Paul