Category Archives: 2009 J-Classic

Cetaceans Capture CLASSIC Cup

Cetaceans Capture CLASSIC Cup

by Jane Fossett and Naeve Rosinni


Following NYC-Narwhal’s rather remarkable win in Race Three, The 2009 J-CLASSIC Finals Championship became a toss-up for the top three teams. Naeve Rossini summarized the situation for the throng of spectators perched atop balloon platforms around the racecourse:

“As we go into the final race, the standings look like this: Waypoint is in the lead with 5 points overall, Narwhal and Eureka tied with 7 and Second Chance in fourth with 11 points. With one discard, the order is Waypoint, Narwhal, Eureka and Second Chance.
This race WILL decide the winner of the J-Classic 2009!
A win by either Waypoint or Narwhal will declare a clear winner. A Eureka win could result in a 2 or 3-way tie.”

The winner of Race Four would decide who took home the J-Classic Cup… Oli’s Cup

For the fourth time in a row, when the gun went off all boats chose a starboard start. Chaos Mandelbrot was again at the helm of NYC-Narwhal, but he was apparently still cranked after the thrill of Race Three and  jumped the gun too soon. Narwhal went “Over Early” by a full two seconds. Eureka (00:07), Second Chance (00:11), and All-Stars (00:17) maintained their focus and all had good starts.

Chaos immediately 360‘d around the East end of the raceline  to recross, but believed that any chance to win had just gone up in smoke. NYC-Narwhal wasn’t ready to throw in the towel however; they had come too far and were having too much fun to give up just because they were going to lose. As shown by the yellow arrow in image below, the Narwhal crew  cooked up a desperate strategy to restart on a port tack, placing them almost exactly a full tack behind the other three vessels.

If you look more closely at the top picture below, you see that Eureka has the height moving toward the windward mark and Second Chance is lee but ahead of  WYC-All Stars and closely overlapped.

After both boats tacked port, WYC and TrYC continued their overlap duel for position all the way across the Southern Sugar Reef Latitudes. However, As waypoint and Second Chance reached the far end of their port tack, Team All Stars’ skipper Massy Johin crashed off-line and the WYC boat went on the rocks, grounded! Toraba Magic lept into action, taking control of the helm and redirecting the boat back into deep water.

In the top image above the location of the first mark is indicated by a yellow arrow. Eureka is closing on it by pinching from starboard, while Second Chance is coming in on port. NYC is on close haul with a far more efficient wind angle than Eureka but several boat lengths astern. Eureka then stalled as it set up to take the turn at the mark, caught in TrYC’s strong windshadow as Trapez cut across Eureka’s bow to fetch the mark. Narwhal grabbed this opportunity, and within a few seconds NYC barreled past Eureka, capturing the second-place position (shown in last image above).

Approaching Race Rock, TrYC was the undisputed leader, with several boat-lengths separating the Second Chance boat from NYC-Narwhal. Eureka and All-Stars vied for the three-four spots. 

The image above shows TrYC brief moments after taking th tun at Race Rock, and about to enter Hay Harbor Channel. NYC is off the port aft quarter and setting the spinnaker pole.

A non-sailor then briefly jumped aboard the Second Chance  in the waters around Race Rock; this likely brought the TrYC boat to a momentary full stop, allowing Narwhal to roar past as it entered Hay Harbor Channel on a slightly more Easterly course. NYC took full advantage of the open water and clean air, building an impressive lead as they rounded Fishers Island and began the home trip through Schooner Run. Entering Anchor Cove  Channel, NYC was also briefly boarded by the griefer. Narwhal came to a dead stop, but then quickly regained momentum before the remaining fleet could close in.

Eureka got within a few boat lengths of  NYC’s stern, earning the second position. Immediately behind Eureka, however, All-Stars was staging a remarkable comeback performance. Given the short course distance and the field of outstanding sailors, WYC’s crash in Sugar Reef should have taken them completely out of competition, but their great teamwork and remarkable sailing skill brought them back into the fight. As WYC reached the entrance to Anchor Cove Channel, they fell windward and overlapped with TrYC and then played that tactical position to advantage, pulling well ahead of Second Chance as the boats turned downwind into Plum Gut. WYC slowly gained on Eureka as well, but both Eureka and NYC held their own, completing the short windward- leeward loop of Quoddy Head with flawless efficiency. Narwhal hit the finish line in First Place with a commanding, thirty-second lead over Eureka, with All-Stars and Second Chance falling into the third and fourth positions.

Although an early over, a crash, and two griefing episodes complicated Race Four, none of the competing boats raised a protest or petitioned for redress when they were polled at the finish line. Head Judge Soro Dagostino then declared this last race of the 2009 J-CLASSIC Regatta “closed” and valid.

In a rather remarkable display of heart, humor, and flat-out relentless sailing determination, NYC- Narwhal came back from a clumsy Start error to capture the win in Race Four… and earn Oli’s Cup in the process.

Congratulations to Nomad Zamani, Chaos Mandebrot and Glorfindel Arrow!!

Myrrh Massiel awarding the Finals Trophies at Fishers Island Yacht Club

J-CLASSIC FINALS III: Rise of the Cetaceans

When we last left off in this tale of the J-CLASSIC Finals, the NYC-Narwhal crew of Nomad Zamani, Chaos Mandelbrot, and Glorfindel Arrow was in a rather sorry state. It was Half-Time; four races were scheduled, and two were on the scoreboard, but those numbers did not look good for Narwhal. In the first two races, Waypoint All-Stars had repeatedly outmaneuvered NYC, and Eureka proved incredibly fast compared to NYC’s whale-boat entry.

However, the absolute worst thing of all for NYC was that their Ace Starting Pitcher, Nomad Zamani, had crashed-out twice in the last race. Narwhal had used-up it’s only discard in the  crash, so NYC was up now against the wall; Team NYC knew that one more bang-up  like that would be lethal, and surely mean an early end to their hubristic playoff hopes. Although back in the locker room, Nomad was still having connection problems and limping badly when Race Director Hay Ah sounded the horn to field a team for the third contest…

Nomad weighed the odds and made the call. During half-time he huddled and laid out the facts.

Nomad said it was too risky for him to skipper the next race, given his tenuous link with Second Reality; he would just crash again. Nonetheless, he exhorted his NYC crew not to give up, but to fight on… “and win one for the Gipper!”

Narwhal Skipper Chaos Mandelbrot

Sometimes fate moves in strange ways. Amidst the din of wind and wave and the clang of rigging all about them, the members of Team NYC thought Nomad said “Win one with the Flipper.” All eyes fell on Chaos Mandelbrot.

Chaos Mandelbrot looked up, swallowed hard, and uttered the immortal words: “WHO ME??”  He protested it was too early to race in his timezone and he hadn’t brushed his teeth, but Chaos was game-to-go. He put down the beer he was drinking, tightened his PFD, and waddled over to take the helm as Narwhal’s Relief Skipper.

The last two races used a new chart that took better  advantage of the extensive sailing water throughout the sailors Cove Estate. It began with an upwind beat to the orange mark in Sugar Reef, then switched to a three-sim long reach to Race Rock Light. From there the course ran through Hay Harbor channel down to the open waters of Schooner Run. The return trip from there to Plum Gut next involved a tricky, narrow squeeze through Anchor Cove, followed by a short detour south around the small island in Quoddy Head. The course was nothing too complicated, and the competition skippers had certainly sailed similar charts many times before. Nonetheless it would take a good deal of skill, and probably some good luck to take first place sailing against this fleet.

However, when the gun went off, Waypoint was ready, and took the advantage!

Massy Johin was once again at the helm, and his WYC All-Stars crew started in the lead with the best time of the day: 00:02. NYC was considerably further windward but started a full ten seconds later, followed by Eureka and then Second Chance.

The next picture (on the right) shows a view of the fleet from high above the spectator blimp taken after the fleet made its first tack; all the boats were now on port. On the left of the image you can see Waypoint leading Eureka, and the right side shows Narwhal far in the distance in front of Second Chance.  NYC is the ‘lowest’ of the four boats as they proceed to the mark.

When he did not win the start, Chaos kept a cool head and took a lesson from WYC’s tactics in Race One. Finding himself  hehind, Chaos deliberately tacked early, sailing away from the pack.

Look what happened next in the picture below. The first image shows Chaos as he reaches the end of his course  and makes a turn; his new course is a starboard right-of-way tack that crosses directly in front of the rest of the fleet.  Chaos timed it perfectly; the middle image shows Narwhal crossing right in front of All-Star’s path. Massy now had no choice; he pulled up short and came about to starboard.

The lower image is a few moments later. It shows all three boats now sailing on starboard with the orange mark in the distance, two tacks away. WYC looks in the lead, but NYC is sailing windward and closer to the mark. Perhaps more important, in that position Narwhal has the “height” to take tactical control.

Watch what Narwhal does next.

As you can see in the first image below, since All-Stars was running parallel and ahead of Narwhal but on a lower course, they ran out of water and had to tack back to port again. The problem is that NYC was blocking them, and NYC was still on Starboard with Right-of-Way. Waypoint had plenty of room, but in order to avoid NYC, All-Stars had to fall off and go astern of Narwhal as shown in the middle image.

That extra few seconds and change in course heading proved disastrous for Narwhal’s competition. Remember, Eureka and Second Chance Were on the same heading and only moments behind the lead boats. In response to NYC’s blocking maneuver, All-Stars lost momentum and turned into the path of the oncoming boats, as shown in the middle image. I can imagine Alain and Trapez shouting  a few unrepeatable words as they desperately tried to execute last minute hockey-stop turns. A collision was inevitable however; the WYC, Eureka, and Second Chance teams all broadsided each other and awkwardly sat in place for more than a few moments  as they sorted out locked rigging and disengaged their scraped hulls.

While all that was going on, Narwhal was out ahead with clean air and an unobstructed racecourse, moving in record time.

The image below shows the NYC team roaring through Anchor Cove Channel on their way to the final leg of the course. Unfortunately the other three boats continued in close quarters after their pile-up. They stayed overlapped and squabbling  for nearly the entire remainder of the race, losing time in the process.

The lower image below shows them traveling three abreast in Anchor Cove. That must be a tribute to wonderful sailing; I didn’t think it was actually possible to fit three J-Class in that channel overlapped…

The final figure below shows Narwhal working the last leg back to the raceline, while the other three boats have just raised spinnaker and are still heading to the last waypoint. Narwhal went on to take Race Three’s First Place in record time, finishing a full two minutes ahead of WYC All-Stars, the Runner-Up.

Nice work for a substitute skipper du jour, Chaos!


J-CLASSIC FINALS: Toraba, Terrific!

OK OK OK, I know I haven’t written very much here recently, but don’t expect any apologies, since I’ve been up to my neck in details with the J-Classic races!  After ten weeks, 120 sailors, 15 teams,  and races that traversed 800 sims… Wow!  Do I have a lot to write about. If you were there for any of J-CLASSIC, you know what I mean.  

 Most sailors already know there were eight major distance races that served as the qualifying events for the J-Classic. Fifteen incredible teams participated, and by the scores and my personal estimation, every single one of those teams proved a champion.  Nonetheless, when the dust settled after eight events, only four teams remained standing. That group of four then advanced to the Final Round in Sailor’s Cove on November 7.

Today let me take a few minutes to share just one of the races from that day; the very first one. However, I promise to keep going over the next few weeks, and cover the whole event (I hope!).

 The Final Four J-Classic Teams (and their final sailing crews) were:

  •  Nantucket Yacht Club — Narwhal:
    Chaos Mandelbrot, Nomad Zamani, Glorfindel Arrow 
  • Waypoint Yacht Club — All-Stars:
    Massy Johin, Toraba Magic, Mikoto Daxter, Steyr Darwin
  •   Eureka:
    Alain Gloster, Suzi Siemens:  
  • Triumphal Yacht Club — Second Chance:
    Trapez Breen, Fiona Haworth 

The Finals consisted of four races that all began in Plum Gut.

The First two races followed a course familiar to many sailors, based on Epicurus Emmon’s old FIYC Hotlaps Chart. Using a wind from due North, the fleet progressed on a beat to the orange mark in Sugar Reef, then fell on a reach to Race Rock. The return path reversed this route, but then continued South to circle a small island in Quoddy Head that allowed an upwind final leg to the Finish.

 J-Classic Finals Chart 101 512Nothing too tricky, you might think, but often the most simple courses like this one end up the most difficult; they provide a true test of fundamental sailing skill and tactics.

Waypoint All-Stars drove this point home in the first race.

The images below show the start of Race One; Narwhal, Eureka, and Second Chance all began on a Starboard close haul tack in single file. With Nomad Zamani at the helm, Narwhal boldly jumped out in front of the pack and set the pace, crossing the tape near the windward end of the race line at 00:00:03. WYC All-Stars, led by Toraba Magic, chose a riskier pre-start tactic; they came at the line on an unobstructed reach from Anchor Cove channel. Luckily, All Stars had plenty of room to do this without barging, and they fell in behind the leader Narwhal with a starting time of 00:00:13. Eureka was next to cross with 00:00:27, and Second Chance brought up the rear at 00:00:42.


So far this looked like a pretty standard race, with a textbook Starboard Start  leading to a upwind beat to the first mark. Conventional sailing dogma says the fastest boat would be the one that now made a series of long tacks with the fewest number of gybes to that first orange mark in Sugar Reef. Narwhal was following the playbook. NYC was in front with a 10 second lead, and given its windward dominant position, there was an excellent chance Narwhal would continue to pull away from the fleet unless it made a mistake. Nomad Zamani was at the helm, however, and everyone watching knew Nomad made precious few mistakes in eight prior J-CLASSIC performances.

 As I watched the race begin, I thought that Narwhal might already have this first race in the bag, right there in Plum Gut…

But I was wrong.

I didn’t know what Toraba Magic had planned! Toraba knew how this race was going to unfold unless he switched tactics and took control.  He wasn’t going to just play Nomad’s follow-the-leader game and settle for the #2 spot in this race.

Toraba defied the usual conventions: he  swung over the helm shortly after crossing the line and took off on a port tack sailing away from the rest of the fleet; All-Stars was laying a trap!


If you look at the picture above, you can see the positions of the four boats a minute later as they continue to tack upwind through Flat Hammock. Narwhal, Eureka and Second Chance are now all on port tack, and Nomad is in control with a clearly dominant windward position relative to the other two boats. If either try to pass NYC, all Nomad has to do is fall a bit off the wind to gain speed and then use the shadow from those huge J-Classic sails to hold the competition in check.

But look again at that top picture above. Toraba isn’t playing that game. Remember All-Stars  tacked early, so although WYC is still  technically behind and lower than Narwhal, they have already gybed. Toraba has Starboard Right-Of-Way and NYC is in his crosshairs. Nomad could see the set up also; he was forced to gybe Narwhal early and yield position to All-Stars.

Look at the second picture above, after NYC and Eureka both came about. With Toraba’s one maneuver and in a very short amount of time, the WYC team snatched the lead away. Woots! Nice sailing, ALL-STARS!!!

Once Toraba was in the driver’s seat, he played it to advantage and continued to eat Narwhal’s lunch. As you can see in the top frame below, Nomad was skillfully fighting back as the fleet of four tacked across the southern half of Sugar Reef. Narwhal gained at least two boat lengths in that short distance, coming into overlap with the WYC boat, but Toraba successfully fended Nomad off with windshadow. As shown in the second picture below, all three lead boats ran out of water on that tack before Narwhal had any hope of challenging WYC’s juggernaut.

Toraba then skillfully flipped to port tack, threw another blanket on Narwhal (just to be sure), and then turned his eyes on the first mark, just a short jump ahead. All-Stars then never looked back; they plugged into overdrive and thirty seconds later they ‘poof’ disppeared from my screen, out of view range.J-CLASSIC Finals Race One - 04 Narwhal, Eureka, and Second Chance were, however, still closely positioned and approaching that first mark. Eureka ended up overlapped with Narwhal as they came to the turn, as shown below. There was no protest, and I have not discussed it with any of the skippers, but I think it would be an interesting discussion about who had Right-Of-Way and which rules applied in this next sequence.

 As shown below Narwhal was high enough to reach the first mark on port tack by ‘pinching’ to windward. If you look behind NYC in the first picture, you can see Trapez Breen sailing TrYC on an optimum port tack – close haul heading; by comparison Narwhal is sheeted too tightly by intention, trying to scrape  past the mark without needing to make an extra time-wasting turn.

There is one problem with this plan … Eureka.

Alain Gloster (Eureka’s  skipper)  had not needed to fight All-Stars, so he was still fresh, focused, and well-rested ( 🙂 (although I admit it was 3:00AM for Alain).   Eureka was able to make the extra, short turn  it needed to approach the orange mark correctly on a starboard tack. The pictures below suggest Alain ended up “in the zone,” inside NYC  and on Starboard tack, with Narwhal on Port. I only had one vantage point, so I can’t say for certain what the ruling would have been here, but I admit that the judges were watching and had a quick cross-check when this occurred to find out if there were protests or if skippers had calls for room that might not have registered on our chat screens.

There were no such protests, and Narwhal grabbed the opportunity to secure the #2 spot by turning ahead of Eureka .

J-CLASSIC Finals Race One - 05 

 The image below shows the lineup after the remaining three boats passed the mark and set an outbound reach course towards Race Rock: The order was 2-Narwhal, 3-Eureka, and 4-Second Chance!

 WYC was so far out front  in that image it was no longer in draw range. A few moments later, however, the WYC All-Stars emerged from the mist over the northern Sailor’s Cove waterways as it steamed back full throttle on the return course. 


J-CLASSIC Finals Race One - 07

With incredible speed, spinnaker a-fly, and zero competition anywhere within two sims, Waypoint had time to flaunt it; they did a show-off runway strut downwind past the overflow crowds waiting by the Finish Line. As the last image above shows, Toraba then cut the line a full two tacks and one minute ahead of NYC and Eureka. It was a remarkable victory lead for a boat, a team, and a skipper.

Recently I’ve been reading opinion posts by people (generally non-racers) who complain that SL Sailing is an ill-equipped, poorly suited game that can’t possibly match our goals to emulate the challenges of Real-Life sail racing. There are many facets to that question, I know, but after watching this first Finals race, I was pretty comfortable I knew my answer to these nay-sayers.  What I saw  in the above race was the real thing;  full of strategy, intelligence, and down-out plain ‘guts.’ That’s real sailing, and if you don’t think so… 

Go talk to Toraba and TEAM WAYPOINT !!!!!!       

The Finals had three more races, and Eureka, Second Chance, and Narwhal all had moments to strut-their-stuff and show why they deserved a slot in the J-Classic Final Four! Narwhal finally pulled off the untimate victory with an incredible tour de force display of talent and determination…

but it’s late, and if you want to hear how it all turned out, you’ll have to “tune-in next time, kids…” 

Style, Substance, and a few Classy Moves: The 2009 J-Classic

2009 J-Classic 5

Eighty years ago a  small handful of truly wonderous boats competed for the America’s Cup under the “J-rule.” Only 10 J-Class were ever built and their brief reign on the seas lasted only a decade. However the majesty, substance and style of the J-Class fleet captured the imagination of the entire world, and images of J-Class still live on in the dreams of the generations of sailors that followed.

This year the dream comes alive again, as a new fleet of incredible J-Class boats hits the water in Second Life. Within the next few weeks, Trudeau Yachts will launch the latest version of this classic racer, and this boat’s just aching to hit the startline. SL Sailors are ready… to make history once more. So here we go, announcing the:

—- 2009 JCLASSIC

The 2009 J-Classic will be an open, multi-site, One Design race series for Trudeau J-Class boats.


Each boat competing in the regatta will be registered to a “Sailing Team” of 2-6 individuals who sponsor the boat and work together during the series to help that boat win.

The competition will begin with a series of distance races. Each race will span 60-80 sims and take approximately 60-90 min to complete. Individual Yacht Clubs and sailing groups will be involved in the planning and hosting of distance events at their ‘home’ raceline. Depending on the number of boats in the competition fleet and the number of destination clubs involved, a total of six-eight distance races will be held, one each week. Two time slots will be offerred for each race, for the convience of sailors in different time zones.

J-Class logo2

The final scoring of the competition fleet will be decided by a point-based rank comparison of each boat’s best four race results (out of 6-8 total). The four fastest boats (and their associated Sailing Teams) will then go on to compete in a one-day J-Classic Finals Regatta, sailing four heats on an Olympic-style short course designed to challenge the sailors’ tactical sailing ability.

The 2009 J-Classic competition is designed in the true tradition of ocean yacht racing from years past, with an emphasis on fun, excitement, and a team sailing effort. The open-team approach and the large number of ‘throw-outs’ means a sailor can be part of the competition with minimal stress and without a major disruption to his/her RL schedule. Miss a couple weeks’ races? No worries; your team is still on the water.

I’ll announce the regatta dates for the competition soon after the new J-Class is launched, and post all the race information and details at that time, both online and in world!


Note: Thank you to Surfwidow Beaumont for a truly incredible job on the “J-Classic promo video” above!
And thank you to the sailors who patiently worked with Surf to make it possible:
Massy Johin, Kei Cioc, Silber Sands, Chad Sawson, and Liv Leigh.