Young American Kids kill it again with a first in fleet in the Block Island Race
Repeating its PHRF class 3 victory from last year was American Yacht Club's J/105 Young American, an entry with junior sailors. The kids were the majority onboard with Peter Becker serving as the team's single adult safety officer and coach. "Last year, we won our class and finished third overall, which was a huge moment," said Becker. "This year, we were first in PHRF division and first overall in PHRF, so we bested our performance by a big margin. The kids are on fire; they love it!" The Young American team was pressured up at the start for their spinnaker run in 25 knots. When the tack of their chute blew out, they switched to a spare and were surfing down Long Island Sound at 15 knots. "We were all hiking off the stern and hanging with the big boats and double-handed boats. They started the double-hands, then small to large classes in order, so Comanche was the last start. It was really cool when it went whizzing by us doing 18-20 knots." From the team report: "The AYC Jr. Big Boat Team really enjoys distance sailing with the J/105, and this race was no exception. The spinnaker run out the Sound to Block was rewarding. The wind was gusting upwards of 27 knots at the start diminishing to 18-20 knots for most of the leg. With our top speed at 13 knots and a very high average speed, we were able to sail effectively the same speed as the J/44s, a J/122 and Carina which was incredibly rewarding and a testament to speed of the J/105 in windy surfing conditions. The bigger boats started not long after us, and it took until New Haven for them to get to us and to get past us. Much of the fleet chose to sail high along the CT shoreline with Young American choosing a route more towards the rhumb line. Unfortunately we fell into a hole which allowed the bigger boats to get past us by a mile or two. On the final approach to 1BI, we made very good use of our A3 and gained several miles back on the fleet ahead of us. A couple of notes on changes we made to the J/105 for this type of racing. First a masthead VHF antenna is now required, as is DCS capability. We also added a bobstay to the sprit and a lashing between the pole and the forward bulkhead to firmly hold the pole extended. With the bobstay, the pole did not flex and it felt like there was better transfer of force into the boat. The challenging part of sailing a J/105 in a distance race of this length is the lack of a proper galley stove and bunks that are suited for sleeping while under way. Someday we may look into installing proper pipe berths and a gimbaling stove burner. The sail home from Block saw a windy beat back to the Gut where we made good use of the new Doyle #3 heavy jib. After fighting the foul current at the Gut, the wind moderated to 12-15 knots, and with smoother water we had a very pleasant sail home to finish at 6:00 pm just as the current was turning to an Ebb and the wind was dying in the transition to a fresh and cold southerly wind. At the finish, we were very unsure how we had done as we could only identify the J/120 that was in our division that came from behind to pass us in the last few miles and really could not see any boats behind us. After a quick look on Yacht Scoring, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that we might be in a good position." The junior crew consisted of Carina Becker, Will McKeige, Kelly Hanlon, Hector McKemey, Nick Davis, Andy Rochat, Sam Papert, with Peter Becker, the only adult onboard, acting as safety officer and coach.