J/Fest: Passionate Sailors on SF Bay

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J/Boats tagline is ‘Better sailboats for people who love sailing’ and that was evident at this year’s J/Fest, where passion for the sport was everywhere.

j/fest, san francisco skyline backdrop

j/105s at the start, photo: chris ray

j/fest 2015

two classes on different courses, photo: sail couture

j70s in j/fest 2015

j70s hard on the wind, photo: sail couture

Nearly 50 boats representing five classes: J/70, J/24, J/105, J/111 and J/120 met to do battle on San Francisco Bay hosted by the St. Francis Yacht Club April 18 and 19. There were three races on Saturday and two on Sunday, with winds from the west and southwest in the 20s, San Francisco sailing!

j/fest s'mores 2015

yum… s’mores set up, photo: sail couture

j/fest 2015 at the St. Francis Yacht Club

a perfect evening, s’mores at the fire pit, photo: sail couture

j/fest mount gay cap

mount gay sponsored the saturday night party, photo: sail couture

Saturday racers were rewarded with a party hosted by Mount Gay Rum, buffet dinner, music and s’mores created a festive atmosphere. The St. Francis fire pits were popular in the evening air and how fun to roast s’mores.

“I think what stands out about the J/Boat client is their true passion for sailing that they like to share in, the Saturday night party and the Sunday awards presentation were examples, the party and awards were packed, everyone came to cheer on the other competitors and to socialize after some great sailing,” said organizer Norman Davant of Sail California.

j/70 spinnakers at j/fest 2015

j/70 loose lucy leading at the golden gate, photo: chris ray

j/fest j105s at the start

j105s at the start, photo: sail couture

j/fest 2015 spinnakers

j105 spinnakers on parade, photo: sail couture

Sunday it was game on again with two races, followed by prize giving. The results can be viewed here.

j/fest, mojo leading at the gate

j/105 mojo dousing at the gate, photo: chris ray

j/fest at the golden gate

ducks in a row, photo: sail couture

j/111 madmen and her iconic spinnaker

a shot of madmen from the rolex big boat series, photo: sail couture

“It was one of our best weekends. The wind conditions built from very low to big, giving us time to adjust,” said Dorian McKelvy, skipper of the winning J/111 Madmen. “Big Blast didn’t race and we looked a lot better for it. We are amateurs among some excellent professionals and our education continues. The stars aligned no doubt!” said Dorian in his characteristic humility.

j/fest j/120 chance in the lead

j120s chasing chance, photo: sail couture

Barry Lewis’s Chance won the J/120 class. David, foredeck and Ann, pit accepted as Barry was taking the boat home. Not for the first time I was struck by the graciousness of the big boat skippers.

“Barry takes care of his crew and we take care of him,” said David. “No one ever leaves his crew.” He said crew members fly in from far and wide, the East Coast and even Dubai for the Rolex Big Boat Series.

Who says good guys don’t finish first?

Both Norman and Principal Race Officer Julie Wiard praised racers for the lack of protests.

jfest j105s 2015

j/105s following the leader, photo: chris ray

j/fest battle at the golden gate

battle at the golden gate, photo: sail couture

The head-to-head competition made for great racing and you didn’t need to win to have fun.

j105 juju j/fest 2015

j105 juju heading to the golden gate, photo: sail couture

“It was a challenging day to call tactics, not a typical city-front day,” said Deb Fehr tactician on J/105 Juju. “We didn’t do that great, but we had a lot of fun.”

j70s fest 2015

j70s sailing by the st. francis yacht club, photo: sail couture

In many ways, J/Fest doubles as a warm-up for the J/Boat regattas of the season; in May the J/24 Nationals at Berkeley Yacht Club and in July the J/70 Pacific Coast Championships at the St. Francis Yacht Club. In September the J/105s return to host their North Americans in conjunction with the Rolex Big Boat Series at the St. Francis.

Note: South Beach Yacht Club is presenting a new regatta, the South Beach Yacht Club Annual Bay Bridge Regatta on May 30-31st, which will host the Pacific Coast Yachting Associationsponsored Jessie L Carr Perpetual Captain & Crew Trophy for the J/70 class. 

If you enjoyed this article, you may also like Rolex Big Boat Series: A Regatta 50 Years in the Making and Rolex Farr 40 Worlds: Sailing Elite Take on SF Bay.

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