No shade to those who love handicap racing. More boats sailing is always better—in all forms, sizes, and rating rules. Still, the simplicity, elegance, and fun of one design racing can’t be understated. And some of those classes of the J/Boats variety gathered at the first J/Fest in several years, an event under new management with Anacortes Race Week producer Schelleen Rathkopf stepping in.

June’s J/Fest drew great fleets of J/70s and J/105s, as well as a few J/24s who are readying themselves for their World Championship in Seattle this fall, and a couple other boats racing PHRF.

With classes and sailors like these, it’s no surprise that the racing was close and competitive. What was a bit surprising was what the weather gods dished up on Saturday. Photographer Jan Anderson was out on the water and said, “Most seasoned PNW sailors are accustomed to occasional weather hiccups, but really? Who in the heck dealt the cards we faced today? Bright, dark, breezy, not, lumpy, smooth, darned low temps for June, reefed mains, not, rain, hail, cloudy, clear… literally the only ‘usual’ conditions missing were waterspouts, subsurface volcanos, tidal waves, lightning, and snow.”

Herb Cole’s J/70 crew ready to set the kite on their way to a class win.

The J/70 fleet activity keeps blasting off in the PNW. Though it wasn’t the fleet’s biggest turnout to date, there were highlights aplenty across the nine boats in attendance. Fleet coach, Ron Rosenberg, shared his highlights from a great weekend of sailing: “Observing the very clear rapid progression of our PNW J/70 fleet; watching 13-year-old Teo from Port Madison YC drive his team’s J/70 and even rocking it on the wing in solid breeze; Mallory and Andrew sharing the joy of racing with their young children onboard; Herb and his team showing that you don’t need tons of time in a J/70 to win. There was a lot of quality time to sail downwind wing-on-wing—an opportunity for testing and learning the many downwind modes of the J/70.” By the end of the weekend, Herb Cole’s Woodpile eked out a tie-break victory over Michael Breivik’s Fram-96 in second, with Togla Cezik’s Poyraz in third.

In the other large one design fleet, the J/105s, John Aitchison’s Moose Unknown continued their winning ways, taking bullets in four of the six races. This team has won their class in Center Sound Series, PSSR, Tri Island Series, Swiftsure, and now J/Fest. Whoa, who can catch them? Rounding out that podium were Jeffrey Pace’s Liftoff and Mike Cain’s Panic.

J/105 Moose Unknown rounds a leeward mark just ahead of Puff. Moose was atop the podium at the end of the weekend.

In the other two fleets, top honors went to Paul Bogataj’s J/24 Atom Ant and Ed Pinkham’s J/109 Jeopardy.

This new era of J/Fest is off to a great start, and I predict we’ll see participation rise in the coming years. Kudos to the hardy sailors who endured most every weather condition, and special congratulations to the top finishers in each fleet.

Full results at:

Photos by Jan Anderson