Tuesday, April 15, 2008


The day started out sunny and not as warm as Saturday, and a breeze came up early-- just what the doctor ordered for the J-Fest racing fleet. [You can see a slideshow of our several hundred race shots on my photo album website at this url: ] We headed out about 11:30 am, to get out of the slip before the marina depth went down too far during the ebb current cycle to avoid dragging the keel in the mud.

The wind was moderate as we left port, but forecast to freshen to 15-20 knots, but we raised full main and put out full jib, planning to reef the jib if the wind freshened as forecast.

Out on the bay, looking westward, we could see some of the J-Fest fleet tacking around in a prestart mode.

Some cruisers were already out on the bay enjoying sunshine and breeze, like this one....

.... and this one.

We tacked out to the west on the southwest breeze for a while, then tacked into the lee of pier 45-- giving a photo-op to the people on shore-- then tacked westward again for a while, and finally tacked back toward Ft. Mason, soon arriving near the start line of the J-Fest races, where J105s were jockeying around awaiting the starting gun.

Here's a video of the start.

The J24 fleet was awaiting its turn to start their first race, and this boat had just raised its jib in preparation for the prestart to begin.

Here the crew of that boat is watching the J105 fleet beating upwind after their start.

The breeze started to freshen substantially, so we pulled in the jib and began sailing main only to make it easier to tack around and watch the racing, and soon spotted the J120 fleet heading downwind toward the leeward mark, as the J105 fleet was tacking upwind. [Seems odd that the J105 start was so long delayed after the J120 start.]

As the J120 fleet approached, we could see that MR MAGOO was in the lead and DAYENU was second.

GRACE DANCES was back in a pack of three boats.

The crew of MR MAGOO raised the jib in anticipation of rounding the leeward mark even before dousing the kite.

GRACE DANCES was looking good as she passed us on her way toward the leeward mark.

MR MAGOO was rounding the mark and hardening in the sails to begin beating upwind toward the windward mark.

Here the J120 named TWIST is dousing the kite as she approached the leeward mark.

MR MAG00 is looking good and sailing well-heeled-over on port tack as she blasts upwind with crew on the rail.

Second place DAYENU is far less heeled-over as she heads upwind, possibly due to luffing up and thus depowering the main sail.

GRACE DANCES was, at this point, headed straight for us on starboard tack, crew on the rail and sending up spray!

Here, GRACE DANCES is back on port tack and sailing beautifully with rail almost in the water.

The J-24 fleet was also beating upwind at this time, following the J-120 fleet.

As we tacked toward the shore, PRIVATEER passed in front of us with Chris, a pier 39 boat neighbor skippering the boat on her way back from a trip to the gate.

A short time later, the J105 fleet was scattered across a portion of the bay, heading downwind on the first spinnaker run of their first race-- WHAT A GREAT SIGHT!

We were still tacking toward the shore when this little sailboat passed in front of us with an older gentleman at the tiller, and we exchanged some pleasantries as we passed.

Soon a portion of the J105 fleet was bearing down on us.

Meanwhile, a lone J105 was taking a different route, not gybing back and forth along the shore for ebb current relief, but heading straight downwind toward the leeward mark.

As the lead boats of the J105 fleet approached, I concluded that we were off the course since I spotted a small red marker that I interpreted as a course boundary and thus concluded that the fleet would all be passing to the west of that marker.

Yikes! I was wrong, and the leaders of the fleet were still gybing along the shore, here the lead boat, NANTUCKET SLEIGHRIDE, was heading toward us on port tack, while the second place boat AQUAVIT was on starboard tack along the shore.

Moments later, the lead boat was back on starboard tack....

...then again gybed onto port tack-- wow! such fast gybes-- impressive!

Then back on starboard tack again as she passed astern of us....

...then back to port tack...

.. and finally passed us to starboard while laying the leeward mark on port tack.

AQUAVIT, in second place, also passed us to starboard, the crew all seeming to be focussed on the spinnaker trim.

We were soon well out of the way of the rest of the fleet as they headed toward the leeward mark on port tack.

GOOD TIMIN, a boat that often leads the pack, was not in front on this race, but she did win the overall regatta.

A bit later, the second wave of J105s were headed our way. Its interesting to me that the identical boats can be so far apart after just one leg of the race.

With so many boats in the J105 fleet, there is often a traffic jam at the leeward mark as some boats are approaching the mark and dousing kites, while others have already rounded and are beating back to windward.

Sometime later, we spotted MR MAGOO still well in the lead of the J120 fleet in the first race, and headed for the finish line, looking good!

Way behind us, GRACE DANCES was having a spinnaker twist problem.

After the J120 fleet all passed us, we spotted the J24 fleet headed our way...

....with TMC RACING in the lead.

The crew of TMC RACING looked quite relaxed as they headed for the leeward mark.

Another J24 was having big problems over by the shore with her spinnaker wrapped around the jib on the forestay-- a really difficult wrap to undo, I'm told.

A bit later, the J120 fleet was off on its second and final race of the regatta, and this time GRACE DANCES won the start.

While the J120 fleet was beating upwind toward the windward mark, the J105 fleet was headed for the finish line of the first race with NANTUCKET SLEIGHRIDE still comfortably in the lead....

... and looking good as she passed us.

As the J105 fleet was headed for the finish line, the J24 fleet was beating upwind on the second leg of its first race.

GRACE DANCES had a comfortable lead as she blasted downwind toward the leeward mark....

... well ahead of DAYENU the second boat, whose crew looked very relaxed at this point.

MR MAGOO, the eventual winner of the regatta, was in fourth place at this point in the race-- the first downwind leg.

GRACE DANCES was looking good as she beat upwind again after rounding the leeward mark-- and still in the lead.

The J105s were following the J120s, having started their second race...

.. beating upwind and sometimes sending up spray over the bow.

We continued to watch a lot more of the racing, taking dozens of photos, and, just when we thought we had seen GRACE DANCES win the second race of the J120 fleet, we spotted her again beating upwind for a third trip around the cans, and still in the lead, but not by much.

This J105 was amost burying her bow in a wave as whe blasted upwind.

Finally, we watched as GRACE DANCES passed us on her way to the finish line, still leading in the second race, the crew looking attentive but relaxed [and probably very excited about winning their first race in the four race regatta].

GRACE DANCES still had a comfortable lead as she approached the finish line. MR MAGOO had moved up into second place and DAYENU was a close third.

We watched the rest of the J120 fleet finish the race as we headed toward home port, crossing in front of the 4th place boat, and then doing a chicken gybe to head for home.

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