Porter and Ritt sail to opening day wins in J/22's
The 2008 Fleet 12 series for J/22's got off with a bang July 6. Well, make that two bangs, as Race Committee Betty and Jack Hubbard were forced to signal the first Fleet 12 general recall in years. A strong current out the bay, nine anxious starters, a very light southerly, and a short line all combined to create a mess at the pin. The recall was welcomed by most of the fleet, but especially by the late-arriving newcomer, the aptly named bob'syergrandaddy, skippered by Nick Johnstone.
With a course of Zp, finish, and now10 boats, the second starting sequence saw only defending champs, David and Michael Marshall's Bad News over early, while FJ Ritt's Paladin and Jeff Westcott's Machbuster got great starts at the pin and headed straight for the channel and the strong ebb current. The tardy bob'syergrandaddy was on Machbuster's weather hip, close enough to hail for a description and location of the windward mark.
Eventually Paladin tacked and ducked Machbuster, allowing the latter to control the favored left side and round Z first. After a short gap, it was Paladin, a resurgent Bad News, Bill Porter's new USA 1533 (nee Besame), and Louis Mariorenzi's Blues eRacer. An hourglass during Machbuster's spinnaker set delayed the early jibe required to escape the now adverse current. This gaffe allowed Paladin, USA 1533, and Bad News to lead the colorful spinnaker parade towards the Jamestown shore. USA 1533, with chute-trimming master Mark Sertl on the sheets, went the farthest left, gained the most, and won by a length or two at the committee boat end. Paladin took second at the pin, followed closely by Machbuster, Bad News, Blues eRacer, Bob Miniutti's Good News, Lowell Thomas's Chaos, bob'syergrandaddy, Jeff Cook's Red Sky, and newcomer Courtney Thomas's Quest.
The course for race two was lengthened to Zp, 13p, and the breeze now maybe up to ten knots. Paladin repeated her earlier great start, but Machbuster was over early this time, and the vexed Bad News had to do circles for contact with Blues eRacer. Paladin led at Z, followed closely by Chaos, USA 1533, and bob'syergrandaddy.
The lead three went left again on the run, but a stubborn group led by Blues eRacer sailed the rhumb line course, gambling that better breeze in the middle would overcome the stronger current. It didn't. Paladin still led safely at the can, followed by USA 1533, Chaos, and after a gap, Machbuster. Tide and the southerly made it a fetch to the finish. So Paladin easily extended to win from USA 1533 and Chaos. Machbuster, Blues eRacer, bob'syergrandaddy, Good News, Quest, Red Sky, and a hobbled Bad News followed in a parade.
The iffy weather forecast turned into a beautiful opening day for this year's series. Bill Porter and FJ Ritt have grabbed the early series lead, but the fleet looks more competitive then ever.