It didn’t take long before the out-of-staters knew they were in for something special. Prior to starting any races for the 2015 Jet-14 Nationals at Mohican Sailing Club in Mansfield, OH, we saw: 10’ high corn, Regatta Chair Marion Zaugg (one of the best sailors, and The Best regatta comedian in the country), reminders that Ohio is the home of The Ohio State University and the #1 ranked football Buckeyes, and the best cider donuts in the world, courtesy of Barbara and Anne Joudrey.
The generally hot weather turned cool just before regatta time, and lasted through the event, giving the campers some nice natural air conditioning for sleeping. There was enough wind to race 3 of the 4 days, averaging about 7 knots, and mostly from the northeast quadrant. Although not the most ideal wind direction for courses, PRO Mike Fulton, assisted by Stewart FitzGibbon and Karen Zaugg worked hard to fit the windward-leeward courses in the best possible location.
And then there was the food. Never has there been more at a regatta, and it was all great!
The early arrivals were greeted with the famous He Man Breakfast. Within hours, the Women’s Nationals got started in a nice northerly. 4 very competitive boats competed with Connie Berchem and Teri Fosmire from Asheville, NC, Taylor Sackett and Abby Freeman, borrowing Nate Ireland’s boat (Thanks Nate!) from Edgewater, OH, and 2 hometown teams of Barb and Anne Joudrey, and Karen Hugon and Ann Roessner. Team Joudrey continually worked their way to the front with good speed and tactics, taking bullets in all 3 races. Towards the end of the day things got a bit flukey, but the competitors remained patient, and fought hard until it was over. Following Team Joudrey in 2nd place were new-comers Taylor Sackett and Abby Freeman, who both have much experience in several other types of boats. 3rd place went to Connie and Teri, who have quickly picked up on how to sail a Jet in just a few years. Karen Hugon (borrowing her former boat from Dan Reiber—Thanks Dan!) and Ann Roessner ended up 4th. Nice sailing to all!
Lesson Learned: Good boat speed and tactics are hard to beat.
The next day the Nationals started on time in a light, shifty northeast breeze. Race 1 saw the eager competitors pull the trigger a bit early, leading to several general recalls. Mike Gemperline and Tom Irwin (#665), after arriving at the site just hours before the starting time, sailed an impressive race, finishing with a strong 2nd. This race set the tone for how things would eventually play out for the final results, as the top 6 finishers in Race 1 placed in the top 6 for the event.
Lesson Learned: Get on the tack which points your bow closer to the next mark.
Race 2 saw the 2014 National Champs Bryan and Tiffany Parker (#1135) lead wire-to-wire for an impressive win. Just after the first mark, at the top of the run, Team Parker was alone out front with a pack of about 12 boats lined up fighting for 2nd. Several boats were patient, and showed good light air downwind speed, with Bridget Ireland and George Auer (#1147), and Nate Ireland and Ben Stock (#698) pulling out of the jam.
Lesson Learned: Try to be patient, and don’t panic in light air, especially downwind.
After only 2 races on Day 1, the fleet was anxious to get more in during Day 2. Race 3 again started in light wind, generally from the east. That said, several good puffs from the NNE were prevelent prior to starting, and the writing was on the wall this was going to be really shifty. After a clean start, one of those “puffs from the NNE” appeared, and one needed to assess whether to follow the lesson from Race 1, or don’t sail toward the next mark, but toward the puff. It turned out that sailing toward the puff was the way to go this time. Unfortunately for the 1135 Team, who had the best start, and was the early leader, a few puff chasers got by them before the 1st mark. The race continued to be a fight for the “puffs from the NNE”, with the team of Marion Zaugg and Anne Joudrey (#1132) coming on strong for 2nd. Team Parker followed closely in 3rd, with Women’s Champ Barb Joudrey (#94) and Sue Halliwell taking 4th for their best race.
Lesson Learned: Sometimes it pays to get on the tack which points your bow closer to the next puff, as opposed to the next mark.
Race 4 was similar to Race 3, with a bit less wind velocity, and the Zaugg/Joudrey Team made the most of the left side of the course to round the first mark in the lead. They ended up 2nd again, with the Ireland/Stock Team quietly sailing very consistent, taking 3rd. The Parkers were again amongst the leaders, and ended up 4th. Another Joudrey, Tom, sailing with Aaron (#120), were impressive to take 5th.
Lesson Learned: See Race 3 lesson, but beware, a good lesson for one race may not hold up for the next race.
Although no one knew it at the time, Race 5 would be the last race for the regatta due to lack of wind. This would play into the final results as there would then be no throw-out race (due to not having at least 6 races). From the start, it was evident that Team 1147 was following the Race 1 Lesson approach. While many boats tacked to go left, towards what they thought—or maybe hoped—was more wind on the left (one of those “puffs from the NNE”) and not towards the 1st mark, Bridget and George took the favored tack (bow pointed more toward the mark), working their way up the right side of the course, leading at the first mark, and down the run. Then things got crazy. Team 1147 again stayed on the favored tack, and others again worked left. This time the left puff won out, and the positions were shuffled. Nate and Ben sailed another nice race, and took 2nd, while the Zaugg/Joudrey Team completed a great day with a 3rd. Dave and Sue Michos, after scraping some rust off, and not sailing in their favorite conditions, figured it all out and placed 4th.
Lesson Learned: When it gets light and flukey, there may not be any lesson to follow. Keep your head out of the boat as much as possible, keep looking for that next puff!
After waiting a bit, and having the wind come out of every direction within an hour, the fleet headed in for a steak dinner.
The final results show that Team 558 with super-crew Sarah Paisley came out on top. Sarah has a wealth of experience, and in addition to winning the 2012 Jet Nationals, she has been part of several other national champion teams in other classes. In 2nd was the Nate Ireland/Ben Stock Team, bringing #698 out of mothballs, and sailing a very consistent series with all top 5 finishes. 3rd went to Marion Zaugg and Anne Joudrey, just 2 points back, with a very strong final 3 races. Bryan and Tiffany Parker were 4th, and also the top husband/wife team, and several times fought their way back from early race setbacks. 5th went to Bridget Ireland and George Auer, who were also very consistent with all single digit finishes. Both Ireland boats were impressive, as they posted their best nationals finishes while not having sailed much in the past few years. The Mike Gemperline and Tom Irwin ended up 6th, and by far were hurt the most due to not having a throw-out. But we’re guessing they had the most fun of any boat at the event! One point back in 7th were Tom Grace and Paula Pacheco, also with all top 10 finishes. Paul and PJ Blonski were 8th, and tied Charlie and Megan Bark for Most Improved from 2014. Dave and Sue Michos ended up in 9th, thanks to their fine last race, and Doug Brown and Susan Mallows from NJ were 10th. Word has it that Doug, who has rebuilt several Jets, has already taken apart #747, to be rebuilt again…..so watch out for more speed next year!
Other awards included the Persistence Award, which went to Jim House and Joe Murr. Madison Porter, traveling from Charlotte, NC to sail with her dad Tim, won the Youngest Sailor Award. Taylor Sackett and Abby Freeman won the Best Finish for 1st Time Nationals Award.
And so the party was over. The boats and kids were packed up, cars ready to roll. But not before one last good meal. Mohican Sailing Club treated all to a great time, and we thank Marion Zaugg and his fleet, and PRO Mike Fulton and his committee for another great Nationals! We said goodbye to one another, goodbye to the 10’ corn, to the Buckeyes, and to the cider donuts. Mohican Sailing Club is a special place, and if any Jet-14 sailor has never been there, put it on your places-to-go list.
Also, a big THANK YOU to Chris Hennon, for his fine and enthusiastic service to the Class as President for the past 2 years. He has put the Class in a good position to move forward in 2016!
See you all at West River next August, and hopefully sooner at other regattas.
Brent Barbehenn (#558)
Full results here: 2015 Jet-14 Nationals