The following is from Latitude 38 – San Francisco’s best sailing magazine..
Spring Keel – San Francisco
In the 23-boat J/105 fleet, Adam Spiegel’s Jam Session played the tune of a consistent 1-1-3 to finish six points clear of the runner-up, Scooter Simmons’ Blackhawk. But while the Jam Session crew of Dave Kelly on bow, Geoff Papilion trimming, Guillemette Brouillat Spiegel in the pit, Jim Barkow on strategy and Ken Turnbull on main and tactics — may have won going away, they almost didn’t make it to the start of the first race after their collision at the Big Daddy Regatta a week before. “It was only due to a bunch of hard work by our rigger, Ashley Perrin, that we got the boat back together,” Spiegel said.
Heineken Regatta – St Maarten
If we were to win our class at Rolex Big Boat Series, we’d probably celebrate by hitting up the Marina district’s watering holes. When Barry Lewis and his gang on Chance took the J/120 title last year, he decided to go sailing. But instead of taking a victory lap around St. Francis, Lewis opted for a decidedly warmer venue — St. Maarten and the 2009 Heineken regatta.
“After a few years of losing out at Big Boat Series in the final seconds of the last race, or on a count-back, we had the motive to celebrate,” Lewis said. “The Heineken Regatta was our opportunity.” Two years ago, Lewis had the chance to sail on Royal Ocean Racing Club Commodore David Aisher’s Rogers 46 Yeoman XXXII at the BVI Spring Regatta. When he found out from the boat’s captain, the Bay Area-based Ashley Perrin, that it was available for charter for the Heineken regatta, he jumped at the opportunity, to sail the all-carbon speedster.
“It’s an asymmetrical boat with a sprit,” Lewis said of the comparison between the Rogers 46 and Chance. But despite the five or so feet of length difference, the boat is way different from a J/120. For one thing, it’s a lot lighter. “The boat weighs significantly less than a J/120,” he said. “If the breeze gets up to 18 knots, it’ll plane and you’re doing 20-25- knots.”
Actually, they figured the boat out quickly enough to take second in Spinnaker 2, just behind Ron O’Hanley’s canting-keeled Cookson 50 Privateer and just ahead of Peter Peake’s R/P 44 Storm. And they didn’t just do it in hohum conditions either. “The weather was cooperative,” Lewis said. ” A front came in Thursday night and Friday’s first race — around the island — had been forecasted to be in 20 knots. By the time we got around to the windward side of the island it was blowing 28-35 knots. On Saturday we sailed windward/leewards in flat water off the leeward side of the island with breeze in the high-20s and low-30s. They sent us up the east side of Island and back on the last day in 20- to 25-knots and we had a great ride home. It was a lot of fun.”
Now, given that Lewis’s, home waters on the Bay can be pretty breeze-on for most of the summer, this might not sound like a huge learning curve to climb. “There certainly are differences, but the combination of having spent a week and half on the boat in the BVI, plus the fact that all of us have sailed together so much meant we got better over the course of the week.”
Lewis decided to recruit crew for the event from within the Chance family. In addition to Perrin, he brought along his son Blake to grind, tactician Doug Nugent, main trimmer Aaron Elder, trimmers Matt Gingo and Michael Redmond, David Krause on the bow and Bryan Murdoch, Seamus Wilmot, Sean Ross, and Mark Ruppert who filled in between. The only non-regular was Lu Ann Bell, who usually races on the competition — John Wimer’s Desdemona — back home.
“The crew I have on Chance has been around for years,” Lewis said. “Everyone loves sailing together, and this was a great opportunity to not only sail together, but just hang out with each other. It was a great time; I wish I could go do it again next week!”