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Jeff Johnstone’s AYC Visit

It all started with the legendary J/24.

Jeff Johnstone recounted to the AYC November monthly meeting how his father Rod chose the size of the J/24 40 years ago for one critical reason: he could build a 24 foot long by 7 foot wide boat in his garage. Anything bigger wouldn’t fit. When they rolled it out, it not only floated, but beat all comers with a family crew on board.

Since then, there have been over 14,000 boats with the famous J/ on the side, a record of success they could never have imagined back then. Jeff recalled the path from J/24 to J/121, the company’s latest offering, a 40-footer designed for comfortable ocean cruising and racing with a smaller-than-typical crew. Instead of six crew hiking, the J/121 has water ballast that Jeff says “you never have to feed.”

Jeff made a lightning fast trip to Arizona for the Tuesday night meeting, flying in Monday, working in his hotel room Tuesday morning, playing a round of golf at Rolling Hills in the afternoon and then taking the red-eye home in order to make it to a scheduled sailing session in Rhode Island Wednesday morning. AYC members showed their appreciation by filling the room at the Caddy Shack.

What kind of event brings out large numbers of boats? Jeff ran through the list of some of the most-attended regattas in the world, regattas that bring hundreds: the Fastnet, the Around-the-Island (the island of Wight), the Chicago-to-Mac, the Bridges race in San Francisco Bay and several others. How about a 600+ mile race in the Grenadines? Jeff says people buying the J/121 are looking for interesting races in interesting places and that doesn’t have to mean wet and cold!

Jeff Johnstone recounts the history of J/Boats, from the legendary J/24. Photo: Mike Ferring

That’s the famous Fastnet rock, the rounding point of one of the most popular sailboat races in the world. Photo: Mike Ferring

November Meeting: J/Boats President Jeff Johnstone

Every performance sailor knows J/Boats, the premier company for fleets of fast boats that began with the legendary J/24 and continues today with a host of sailboats that start with the letter “J.”

J/Boats President Jeff Johnstone

On Tuesday, November 14, the president of J/Boats, Jeff Johnstone, will be our meeting speaker. He’ll trace the path of the company from the groundbreaking J/24 to the latest hull #1 of the new J/121 (which I know you’ll want to order immediately).

It was Jeff’s father Rod who started it all with $400 worth of fiberglass and wood plus some leftover rigging from brother Bob’s Soling. The result was Ragtime, which proved an amazing race winner and launched a series of J/24s that eventually sold an astonishing 5400 boats.

Since that beginning, the brand has produced 7,000 more J/Boats. A total of six of Rod and Bob’s sons keep the company in the family and sailing fast.

The meeting is Tuesday, November 14, beginning at 7pm (but arrive early for dinner). Monthly meetings are held at the Caddy Shack @ Rolling Hills Golf Course, 1415 North Mill Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281-1205 (map) and both members and non-members are welcome to attend.

Ruth Beals Cup 2017

Ellen Wesley is the 2017 Ruth Beals Cup champ, taking the overall honors at Lake Pleasant Saturday, November 11. Ellen sailed on one of Victor Felice’s J/24s and led much of the race, falling behind in light air rounding Balance Rock and then making it up with a bold move along the western shore when the wind died entirely. Counting on a whisper of thermal air movement, they ghosted up the shore and to a shortened course finish at “no name” island.

The scores for the 2017 Ruth Beals Cup are posted on the results page, or click here.

Maryellen Ferring finished second in her J/80 and Ryane Griffis was third in an Etchells. Eight boats were set to start the race, but Debbie Barlow’s Siren 17 lost a main halyard on the way to the race course and didn’t start.

We thank Fleet Captain George Sheller and Mark Howell for their work as the volunteer race committee. For speedy race results, they texted the finish times to scorekeeper Dave Christensen, who posted the results right after the finish.

Ellen Wesley won the Ruth Beals Cup despite the two characters flanking her.

Bob Whyte trims during the Ruth Beals Cup. Photo: Mike Ferring

Week 4 of Racing at Lake Pleasant

Score one for Perfect. Saturday (11/4) was as close to perfect as sailing gets: breezy, generally unshifty, and comfortable temps. I hope you were there. Sunday started out as one of those drifter things, with lots of boats timing out on a first race. Then, as some boats were about to give up, the wind came up from the south and it was game on. This time it was puffy and shifty, but we’ll take that over no wind any Sunday of the week.

The scores for week 4 of racing at Lake Pleasant are posed on the results page, or by clicking here.

Steve Grothe and daughter aboard Old Yeller. Photo: Mike Ferring

Slow boat, fast driver. Martin Lorch’s Santana 20 carries the highest PHRF number, but consistently clobbers the fast boats. Photo: Mike Ferring

Another Light Air Sunday on TTL

South wind wasping through the buildings on the south shore of the lake made it another light air weekend. Our respect for the sailors who had the patience to continue to “race.”

Here are the results.

Ruth Beals Race November 11 at Lake Pleasant

Ruth Beals Insho, AYC Founder (picture 2005 by Mike Ferring)After a record turnout in January, the all-woman Ruth Beals Cup Regatta will return to Lake Pleasant on Saturday, November 11, with the starting gun at 9:30 am. The race ran its first many years in C14s at Tempe Town Lake, but last year broke out with a race at Lake Pleasant in run-what-you-brung boats rated by PHRF handicap.

January’s race was won by Chrisann Tortora on Mike Hester’s Viper 640, leading some dozen competitors across the line.

Race documents and entry here.

The race is named for the founder of AYC, Ruth Beals, and offers a chance for the women of the club to compete against other women. Men are allowed to crew, but not to get too close to the tiller.

There will be a single long-distance race, following the TransLoch course from a start/finish, around Horse and Balance Rock and No-Name islands, back to the finish line. Then to Spinnaker Point for some wine and cheese.

John Mayall, Crisann Tortora, and Greg Jackson in 2010. Photo: Scott Jenkins

Weekend Two for Lake Pleasant Racing

Thank the Catalina 22s for putting on some good racing this weekend (10/7-8), topped off with an Octoberfest-style night at Spinnaker Point, dressed up with brats and a live Polka trio.

Here are the race results.

Bob Naylor enlisted the Polka band, which added a fun and slightly surreal tone to the usual post-race gathering.

Two accordions and a bass guitar and plenty of oom pah to accompany dinner. Photo: Mike Ferring

A nice turnout for a Saturday night dinner at Spinnaker Point. Brats and Polka. Photo: Mike Ferring

Joel Hurley Dominating Lasers at TTL

When Will Zornik heard that his young coworker Joel Hurley had raced in college, he recruited him for the Tempe Town Lake Laser fleet. Might have been a strategic mistake. Joel’s running away with the lead in the fall series on an adopt-a-boat.

With the wind blowing nicely on Sunday (10/1), the Lasers raced and raced and raced, running six races in all and exhausting themselves completely in 100° heat before shutting down at nearly 6 o’clock. The Portsmouth fleet fielded just two boats, with Mike Parker’s Capri 16.5 taking four races.

Here are the results.

Paul Miachika rounds the windward mark. Photo: Mike Ferring

October Meeting: North U Founder Bill Gladstone

The October Monthly Meeting Speaker, North U’s Bill Gladstone. Photo: Mike Ferring

The crazy-windy 2016 Chicago to Mac was tossing our J/130 around like a toy when the helmsman (no, not me) made a bit of a mistake—the huge, green spinnaker suddenly wrapping around the headstay, wind blasts threatening to rip the spinnaker to bits. Raining, dead dark, we call for Bill. Bill Gladstone. He pokes his head up from below and calmly goes to work, unflappable despite the roar of the flapping sail, asking for a couple jibes to unwrap the sail and minutes later we’re back on course, sail intact.

This was Bill’s 28th Chicago to Mac, so he’s seen a lot of nutty stuff on Lake Michigan and lots of other places. He takes it all in calmly, with a smile and a laugh that help explain how he’s been able to take teaching performance sailing and turn it into a lifetime vocation. His business is North U, which presents seminars each year around the country plus the Regatta Experience and clinics in Ontario, Captiva Island, Florida, and St. Thomas.

In October, Bill will offer AYC a short version of one of his workshops, spinning stories as he suggests tactics, rules, and trim. Expect to be as much entertained as informed.

The meeting is Tuesday, October 10, beginning at 7pm (but arrive early for dinner). Monthly meetings are held at the Caddy Shack @ Rolling Hills Golf Course, 1415 North Mill Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281-1205 (map) and both members and non-members are welcome to attend.

Bill’s racing experience covers the spectrum, including everything from dinghies to Maxies, ponds to oceans, and foredeck to helm. He has finished in the money at Key West Race Week, the SORC, Block Island Race Week, Chicago NOOD, Annapolis to Newport; Chicago to Mackinac, the Annapolis Fall Series, NYYC Race Week, and Queen’s Cup. Bill raced collegiately for Yale and was founder of the Chicago Sailing Club.

He’s been teaching sailing and racing for over forty years. Graduates of his seminars number in the thousands, including several dozen AYC members.

Bill Gladstone on the rail for the Chicago-Mackinac race in 2016. That’s Maryellen Ferring over Bill’s left ear. Photo: Mike Ferring

It Was a Hoot at the Lake

Brats, buddies, and boats. We called it Hoot at the Lake and about 50 people turned out for a fun few hours at Tempe Town Lake Saturday (9/30).

The wind was light, but it didn’t deter lots of us from sampling a buffet of sailboats, including O’Pen Bics, Lasers, 14.2s, and Mike Bernard’s nice Sabot. Rob Gibbs brought two Desert Sailboats SUP boards to try. Sharon Bell brought games. Martin Lorch tended the BBQ. The Ferrings brought the food. Mike Bernard floated the boats. Andy Oliver was event chairman and supplied the tow vehicle.

Will Zornik and kids brought out the O’Pen Bics and had a ball sailing and flipping them. Photo: Mike Ferring

Some of the group gathered by the dock at Tempe Town Lake. Photo: Mike Ferring

The wind came in small puffs most of the day, but it was still fun to try different boats. Photo: Maryellen Ferring

A lazy day and no rush to get to the water. Photo: Mike Ferring

The shaded area by the east dock proved to be an excellent place to hang out. Photo: Mike Ferring

Blustery Opening Weekend at Lake Pleasant

The Fall Series opening weekend was a blast—a blast of wind on both Saturday and Sunday!

Saturday (9/23) was the big day for participation, with 14 boats racing in the multi-hull races, zinging across the lake on double-digit reaches and big smiles. Overall, there are 41 entries for the fall, with more still trickling in, especially from the PHRF Spin fleet, which was on Race Committee, giving entrants an excuse to wait another couple weeks before they really have to sign up.

Unfortunately, the Santana 20s did not get the needed five boats to fleet, which means they’ll be folded into the spin fleet, creating a wide range of ratings for the spins. There are enough Santana 20s in the club, but several decided not to enter.

And the debut of the MarkSetBot, the robotic mark? “Awesome,” is how Paul Liszewski summed it up. “I had my doubts,” he said, “but it did an excellent job.” It was a day when normal, anchored marks went adrift (one getting beached on an island), but the robotic mark just treaded water at the end of the start line, not moving. Same on Sunday, when Roger Butterwick said that he too was a doubter, not believing the mark could remain motionless for hours, but he was convinced by the end of the day’s racing.

The “Munchies on the Hill” after racing also had a nice debut. Steve Nahkala brought a table of munchies and a cooler of beer to Spinnaker Point as we transition from Fleet Dinner to Fleet Nachos and Beer. Some 35 people came by, about the same as a dinner group. (But the Catalina 22 fleet is planning to offer a Fleet Dinner the next race Saturday, October 7.)

Here are the race results.

Mark Howell is the scorekeeping SuperSub while Dave Christensen is sight-seeing around Europe. It took Dave’s knack for reading chicken bones to sort out this weekend, especially the multi-hull fleet.

Tony Chapman calmly hikes as his Viper 640 decides whether to splash down. Tony spent the summer in heavy wind races in Lake Garda and The Gorge and honed his big wind skill. Left: Court Roberts and team applaud. Photo: Charles Landis

It’s True: The Race Mark is a Robot!

Tom Ohlin watches a test of the new MarkSetBot on Lake Pleasant. Photo: Mike Ferring

It’s a bit of a leap of faith, a broad jump really: The pin-end start mark on Lake Pleasant’s Opening Day (9/23) will be a robot.

The inventors call it MarkSetBot and AYC is one of six clubs in the nation beta-testing this new device (out of 40 clubs that said they’d like to do it). It’s an odd-looking contraption on the water, riding on two inflated catamaran hulls, propelled by an electric trolling motor, and guided by cell phone and GPS navigation. It skitters around on the water like a large play toy.

Lake Pleasant Lake Captain David Newland and I (Mike Ferring) have been working on this machine for several weeks now, finally getting to the point where we think it can work as the pin-end mark. Later it might become one of the other marks of the course. Tom Ohlin joined us as we ran the thing for over an hour on Wednesday (9/20) and it performed nicely.

The idea, of course, is to replace one of our regular marks with the robot so it can be placed remotely without relying on the Boston Whaler crew and without dangling 160+ feet of anchor rode below it. Because the RC wouldn’t need to move the Whaler into position and because nobody would need to lift and drop or drag all that rode, the course can be adjusted much faster and much more easily. Cool, huh?

The company reports that this last weekend (9/17) MarkSetBots made up the entire race course for the stadium race at Grosse Pointe (Michigan) Yacht Club run by Premiere Sailing League. There was a single RC boat with only one person on it. That person monitored for OCS and then acted as a judge boat motoring up the course. The course was changed in length and direction many times. At one point, there was a 90 degree wind shift and it took the MarkSetBots just 60 seconds to reposition. Wow.

The MarkSetBot is not without its, well, let’s call them “issues,” which means we’re moving cautiously and wondering whether this robot is  long-term for us. Just a few of the issues:

  • It’s big and unwieldy to launch and to store.
  • It needs to be assembled each time it’s used (and disassembled when we’re through with it).
  • It runs on a battery that needs to be charged.
  • It’s made up of lots of little bits that can be damaged, lost or wear out.
  • The cell phone interface is difficult to operate.
  • Operation requires training (and we have trouble getting people to take care of our boats).

So, that odd thing at the end of the start line? That’s your starting pin. Please don’t hit it.

The robot MarkSetBot at cruising speed during the Lake Pleasant test. Photo: Mike Ferring

Picnic, Play, Party at the “Hoot at the Lake”

All for fun: The Hoot at the Lake party on Saturday, September 30, from 10am to 1pm at the Grassy Knoll at Tempe Town Lake.

Mike Bernard has planned a bunch of zany sailing games for  the Hoot, including such things as backward sailing, competition pitting 50+ codgers and kids, and some SUP board rides.

Sharon Bell is bringing her Corn Hole game and Horseshoes for dry land play.

Maryellen Ferring is heading up the food brigade, planning a barbecue at lake’s edge.

Andy Oliver is the Chairman in Chief.

There’s no charge and no registration to attend. Just drop by and have fun.

All of this rises out of that survey you completed this summer. You said you’d like more social events in the club. About half the people who responded to the survey said they’d come to a pure social gathering like this one.

Fun sailing on Tempe Town Lake. Photo: Debbra Heisler

Let the Season Begin!

After a summer of quiet Wednesday night races, it was great to see Tempe Town Lake teeming with boats Sunday (9/10) on the first day of TTL Racing and RC Training and the first day of ASF Opti classes.

The wind was a little light and the temperatures a bit, well, hot, but it was a fun day anyway. Vice Commodore and Laser sailor Mike Bernard led an effort to add gates to TTL racing and they were used for the first time this day.

Race results are here.

The Buccaneer fleet topped out at four entries for the season, which meant they were combined with the Portsmouth fleet and worked race committee.

Natalie Harper leads the Opti 1 class at Tempe Town Lake. Photo: Mike Ferring

 

Jump Into the Busy September AYC Calendar

AYC’s September calendar is locked and highly loaded, with every weekend and some weekdays marked for action. Here’s a quick rundown:

Friday 9/8: Crew-Skipper party (or just call it a party-party) from 5-7pm at the Bluewater Grill at 1720 E Camelback in Phoenix. AYC will buy some hors d’oeuvres; you buy the beverages. Shake or stir. This is a chance to mingle with AYC members and if you need crew or you’d like to crew, a chance to find somebody with the right background, commitment, and personality to set you up for the fall.

Saturday 9/9: ASF Work Party. Starting at 8am we’ll gather at the Tempe Town Lake boat corral to spruce up the Arizona Sailing Foundation boats for the fall classes. Please help!

Saturday 9/9: The first class for ASF Junior Performance Sailing. This is a new approach, offering race training and race experience for young teens.

A little personal coaching from the safety boat on Tempe Town Lake. Photo: Mike Ferring

Sunday 9/10: Sunday afternoon Tempe Town Lake will be bristling with action, with ASF Opti and Junior Performance classes and the first day of racing and RC training. Racing begins at 3pm. This same program happens again on the following Sunday, 9/17.

Tuesday 9/12: The monthly meeting features some members who raced or cruised in interesting places, headlined by Mike and Jo Grijalva’s Transpac race and Chris Smith’s run in the Chicago to Mac.

Tuesday 9/19: High School Sailing begins its every-Tuesday sessions through the fall, beginning at 4pm and going until dark.

Thursday 9/21: The free Introduction to Sailboat Racing class from 6:30 to 9pm. Learn the basics of racing or bone up on how AYC does it compared to where you’ve raced before.

Saturday and Sunday 9/23 & 9/24: The first weekend of Lake Pleasant racing, beginning Saturday at 12:30pm and Sunday at 9am. PHRF Spin fleet is on Race Committee. After the racing, explain what really happened on the race course over a beer at Spinnaker Point. This year there will be no fleet dinners on Saturday nights, but plenty of post-race beer and nachos.

Saturday 9/30: From 10am to 1pm it’s come-have-fun time at Tempe Town Lake. We’ll launch some boats, play sailing games, toss some corn hole and horse shoes, and barbecue some burgers and brats.

August Meeting: The Future of Sailing

Launching the Opti. Photo: Mike Ferring

What is the future of sailing? I think we can agree the answer lies with the kids trimming the sails at an ASF Opti I class and their older brothers and sisters in Bics, Lasers, and anything else that sails to the wind.

What draws them to sailing when the competition is a fast-moving massive multi-player online game?

In August, we’ll find out what Colin Gibbs and Cedric Lorch think the answer is. We’ll hear from them and from dad Rob Gibbs and others who are putting together sailing programs for kids. This fall, the Arizona Sailing Foundation (ASF) will launch a racing program for juniors, mostly in Bic O’Pens, and put them on the Tempe Town Lake race course at the same time as the adults. Can sailboat racing hold its own with the latest app?

The meeting is Tuesday, August 8, beginning at 7pm (but arrive early for dinner). Monthly meetings are held at the Caddy Shack @ Rolling Hills Golf Course, 1415 North Mill Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281-1205 (map) and both members and non-members are welcome to attend.

Cool Weekend in the Pines

Nothing like a fistful of s’mores to bring the giggle to the campfire. Photo: Mike Ferring

The new AYC summer campout location works just fine: Dairy Springs Campground near Mormon Lake can be reached by paved roads, offers running water and permanent (if rustic) toilets, and even has nearby cabins for softies like your Commodore. It doesn’t have the aura of a tricky, hard-to-spell name like Kinnikinick, but that’s easy to overlook.

What hasn’t changed is a significant drop in temperature from the 100s of Phoenix to the 70s of the high country and the collection of friends ready to shoot the breeze, hike the hills, and take your 75¢ stake at Liar’s Dice. Add intervals of soothing rain and a hot grill to cook your dinner and this is a fun, casual, relaxing couple days.

Credit Steve, Angela and Kenneth for pulling it together once again and for talking the rest of us into dropping in.

Scroll down to see a slide show of pictures from Mike Ferring.

The traditional game of Liar’s Dice brings lots of laughs to an afternoon at the campground. Photo: Mike Ferring


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maryellen and Mike Ferring mug for the camera while Steve Nahkala prepares a traditional breakfast. Photo: Dennis Lynde

Warm? How About a Weekend in the Pines?

Steve Nahkala works the barbeque.

As I write this, the temperature in Phoenix is flirting with 120 degrees and a weekend in the cool country of Northern Arizona sounds pretty nice.

The annual AYC Summer Campout (formerly the Kinnikinick campout) is Friday-Sunday, July 28-30 this year. No need to register; just show up in the cool pines.

Once again Steve Nahkala will be heading up the trip, which will be held at Dairy Springs Campground by Mormon Lake. Steve moved the gathering to this new spot last year and says it’s more civilized than the traditional unimproved Kinnikinick site. People will begin to filter into the campsite Friday, ready to enjoy the beauty of the location and the fun gathering of AYCers and friends. The activities are as rustic as the surroundings, with “pasture golf” and horse shoes and Liar’s Dice.

Here’s much more information on the event, including map directions.

Wednesday Beer Can Racing

Wednesday night organizer George Sheller. Photo: Mike FerringWhat are you doing Wednesday night? How about coming out for some highly casual racing at Tempe Town Lake?

We start racing at 5:30 and go until sundown. We do a one minute sequence. I have a whistle and signal: 5 short blasts is “AP down,” followed by a 10 second gap, then one long as the start of the one-minute countdown. I try to give 3 shorts at 30 seconds, 2 at 20, 1 at 10 and then one long for the start. A single 360 turn clears penalties. We set short courses, so we’ve gotten up to seven races in. If the Ferrings are there, we use their automated starting gadget.

This started as a Laser thing, but others started coming out, which was great. We all start together.

This is not an official AYC event, so you’re on your own in terms of a boat, liability and fun. We start promptly at 5:30 pm and if you miss one or two races it’s no big deal since we don’t keep scores. This is good practice, with bragging rights and then (for those who want to) off to a local restaurant for dinner and drinks.

Have questions?  Email me.

See you out there,
George Sheller

A Night to Remember

2016-2017 Commodore Bruce Andress. Photo: Mike Ferring

The 2017 Commodore’s Celebration was a night to remember, especially for Lori Reger, who received the AYC Sportsmanship Award recognition for her many contributions to the club over the years: as secretary, as monthly meeting greeter, as adopt-a-boat wrangler and a whole host of other things.

Paul Miachika will probably remember it too—the night he traded the Club Championship trophy for the Blunder Bucket! Paul ceded the Club Championship punch bowl to Mike Hester and John Mayall, this year’s champs. And Rob Gibbs offered a stirring nomination of Paul for a small trailering boo boo. Seems he didn’t tie down the front of his Laser to the trailer. That turned into a big deal when heading down the 101, he looked in the rear view mirror and saw the boat take flight, crashing on the port stern quarter and back flipping some 15 feet in the air. Fortunately nobody hurt, but Paul was suddenly in the market for a new boat.

Colin Gibbs earned the Linderman Most Improved Junior Award. Photo: Mike Ferring

Cindy Pillote presented the Linderman Most Improved Junior trophy to Colin Gibbs and the Heavy Lifting Award to his dad Rob. Bella Hutchinson accepted the High School Championship trophy; she crewed for Peter Blake in the competition. Miles Danner will receive the Wayne Jason Tucker Outstanding Junior Award when he comes home from vacation.

The experimental “Triple Crown” concept didn’t produce a winner this year, but Bruce Andress decided to dedicate it to longtime AYC member Jim Ney, who died recently.

Bruce will remember this as the night he handed over the Commodore’s chores and I’ll remember it as the night I formally took them on… again. Round three as Commodore. The new board, with several new faces, stood for applause.

The Commodore’s Celebration was held at The Yard in Tempe and proved to be an excellent location, especially when dressed up with Maryellen Ferring’s centerpieces and bright balloons.

Here are pictures I took (or were taken by others using my camera).

Motley Crue: Most of the 2017-2018 AYC Board of Directors. Photo: David Newland