Thanks to Rick Jarchow for this report: Well in South Florida, we really don’t take the summer for granted at all when it comes to sailing, and the beautiful Chamber of Commerce conditions that J/24 Fleet 10 provided to the travel teams was nothing other than spectacular.
Saturday opened with an Easterly at about 5 knots gusting 8 while boats were being launched at the three different sites. If you know Coconut Grove, you know that there are three clubs on the waterfront as well as the US Sailing Center and Shake-A-Leg Community Sailing Center out of the old US Coast Guard Sea Plane Hanger. So with locals launching from the US Sailing Center and Coral Reef and the travel teams launching from Shake-A-Leg (with Coconut Grove graciously hosting the regatta), most of our fleet saw their engines for the first time in many months as we motored to CGSC for the skippers meeting. Being this was the first time in my 17 years of J/24 ownership that CGSC was going to run a race for the Florida J/24 series, I wanted to make sure that I got over to CGSC and met with the PRO so that we could discuss expectations.
Ian our PRO met with me, and we sat and discussed that the fleet would like no more that 35–40 minute races. We discussed safety in the event of serious thunderstorms, which were not in the forecast, but my feeling is let’s go over everything so that we understand how the class and the club want to run an event since I had not met Ian before. We both agreed on safety and fun quick races. By the time the skippers meeting started, Biscayne Bay was producing a nice Easterly at about 8-10 knots. We set the bar high in Miami that we have serious sailing, but the camaraderie is the most important thing, and Ian agreed with that as he told us during the skippers meeting to behave on the starting line. Amazingly, we went until the last race without having a general recall.
With a scheduled first warning at 11:30, CGSC race committee got things rolling with a perfectly timed start with 8-10 knots out of the East. The fleet couldn’t ask for better conditions. With 11 teams heading to the first mark and all having played nice on the starting line, the power of one-design showed as the top five boats all would round in a matter of just seconds. This would be a trend that would continue for the entire weekend.
CGSC did a great job of getting four races off on Saturday, and our Fleet Captain who had broken his main halyard in the first race even reappeared just in time to sail the last race of the day. The leader had a commanding lead with 6 points, but second and third were not to be counted out as they both had decent throwouts if we get to that elusive sixth race on Sunday. Team Exit Strategy on Saturday had a total of six points with a 1,1,3,1, second was Main Squeeze with a 2,5,1,5 and third was Zia with a 3,2,2,7. So after looking at the points, Team Exit Strategy knew the worst they could do on Sunday was to get a fifth in the first race, but they also had to keep track of how Main Squeeze and Zia were performing.
On Sunday morning, the lovely clear blue waters of Biscayne Bay were not going to disappoint anyone. At the 11:00 warning signal, the breeze was a steady 8-12 knots out of the east. With two races scheduled for Sunday, Team Exit Strategy was feeling pretty good, but they knew that they needed a top five finish to win the regatta. Main Squeeze (which is a local favorite and a road warrior in Florida) came out swinging and took the bullet with four boats overlapped crossing the finish line with Team Exit Strategy in fourth and now having to sail the last race to make sure that they would win the regatta. The last race went off with a general recall as the fleet decided it was finally time to get aggressive and push the envelope. With the top three decided, fourth, fifth and sixth were battling and pushing the line. With the general recall flag down and the final race of the regatta in now a 10-12 solid easterly breeze, the fleet got going and did not disappoint with battles for posturing across the board.
With the final race in the books, Team Exit Strategy took the regatta with race 6 being their throwout with a conservative finish of sixth. Second place was Zia 1 point behind Team Exit Strategy with 11 points, and third place was Main Squeeze with 14 points.
Team Exit Strategy consisted of the following crew:
Brian Schultz, pit, Boca Raton, FL CGSC Member
Val Shestopalov, bow, Miami, FL
Kurban Ali, trimmer, St. Petersburg, FL
Cate Gundlach, tactician, Lauderdale Yacht Club/CGSC Opti Alumni
Rick Jarchow, Jr., driver, Lauderdale Yacht/CGSC Club Opti Alumni
A big shout out to the race committee at Coconut Grove Sailing Club, Regatta Chair Andi Hoffman, Regatta Organizers Rick Jarchow, Jr. and Mark Pincus, and finally our PRO Ian McCelland.