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J/111s dominate 75th Newport to Ensenada Race

by J/Boats 7 May 20:36 BST
75th Newport to Ensenada Race © Lisa Bronitt

With eighty-one entries in the Newport to Ensenada PHRF Racing division, the 17 J/Teams (21.0% of the fleet) were hoping to garner their fair share of the silverware in this offshore classic. The PHRF Racing Division featured some of the best southern California offshore sailing teams from San Diego up to Santa Barbara, CA.

For the start, the marine weather forecasts called for winds of only 1 to 3 knots. With the course known for lighter winds after sundown, early predictions and pre-race chatter projected that racers were in for longer transit times, and that speed seekers would head farther offshore to find wind.

When the fleet crossed the start line on Friday, they found better-than-expected, but not record-setting winds. Lighter winds put sailors to the test and make every decision and problem-solving measure meaningful. Those choices resulted in some super close racing. On corrected finish time, the difference between winning or not was a matter of minutes - and in some cases - seconds.

With a best corrected time of 19hrs 53mn 09s, John Staff's J/111 OBSIDIAN topped the class and took two more trophies back to California Yacht Club- the top ULDB-C Division win, the Secretary of Navy- USA Trophy, and the Carlos Avila Escoto Trophy winning the J/111 one-design class.

Although Staff had a 40+ minute lead, the difference between second and third-place finishers in the 15-boat class, was eleven and a half minutes!

With the light wind forecast, talk before the race led to the decision to run a more conservative race, meaning, not heading too far offshore and turning in early. Like others who chose that route - it paid off.

Staff, who has skippered N2Es for 17 years (including two on this boat) said that the growing number of J/111s makes racing more exciting, and more competitive. The performance boats appear to be attracting some new sailors which is good for the sport.

In an effort to repeat last year's 2022 Overall and Division win was yet another top J/Team. In the PHRF ULDB B class, Standish Fleming's J/125 NEREID took the silver medal.

The J/111 division (PHRF ULDB C with 15 boats), Staff's OBSIDIAN led a near clean sweep of the handicap class. Winning the silver medal was Brack Duker & Yumio Dornberg's REVO, with Ed Sanford's CREATIVE in 4th place, and Brian Ganz's ZOOM in 6th position.

More Newport to Ensenada Race sailing information here.

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