BACARDI Miami Sailing Week

The last day of racing for the 88th Bacardi Cup and the 6th BACARDI Miami Sailing Week Presented by EFG Bank brought a little change in the weather with overcast skies and scattered showers. The wind also switched directions and was coming out of the NE between 10 and 15 knots. The 164 teams racing in five one-design classes – Star, Viper 640, J/70, VX One and M32 – completed enough races in four different circles for the winners to collect the prizes. In the 22-boat VX One fleet, John Potter won with 35 points followed by fellow Americans Phillip Norris (35 points but one less win) and Philip Hallowell (37 points). “The entire week was great, and (Sunday) we got breeze that wasn’t expected,” said John Potter. “We got lucky on the first wind shift and finished second in the first race. It’s a great place and a great venue. Race Committee did a great job, parties were worthy and we especially loved the weather.” For complete results, visit

St. Pete NOOD

Favorable conditions allowed for 11 races in the VX One fleet at the Helly Hansen St. Pete NOOD regatta from February 13-15 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Five VX Ones took to the waters of Tampa Bay, but it was Brian Bennett on VX Racing who rode six bullets to the top of the leaderboard with 22 overall points. Michael Norris’ Flash Rider placed second with 28 points, and Andrew Walford’s Commando third with 31. For complete regatta information and results, visit

Christopher Alexander Seizes VX One Midwinter Championship

It was a battle to the last race, and Christopher Alexander came out the victor at the VX One Midwinter Championship hosted by Sarasota Sailing Squadron in Florida. After 10 races, Alexander’s Isabelita Con Queso bested 26 other teams, and added this title to his 2014 North American Championship from last July. Finishing with 34 points and a line of (11),4,2,6,1,4,2,2,6,7, Alexander won by just one point over John Potter, whose 3,5,3 on Sunday fell just short of capturing the victory. Ched Proctor’s Flash Rider placed in the show position with 37 points. With temperatures in the mid-70s and winds at 10-12 knots with gusts to 16, Proctor took the gun in Sunday’s opening race, with Alexander keeping pace in second and Potter just behind. Bill Griffin’s Kill Bill won the next contest, followed by Jeff Eiber and then Phip Hallowell on Chuck Wagon. The final duel was taken by Donovan Brennan’s Island Smuggler, as Proctor and Potter rounded out the top three. Complete results are available by clicking here. Photos are posted on the VX One Class Facebook page.

Christopher Alexander Grabs Advantage on Middle Day of VX One Midwinter Championship

A handful of teams juggled among the top three finishing positions today, as four races were completed at the VX One Midwinter Championship hosted by Sarasota Sailing Squadron in Florida. Marty Kullman’s Blue Flame secured three firsts, however it is Christopher Alexander’s Isabelita Con Queso on top of the leaderboard heading into the final day of racing on Sunday with 19 points. John Potter holds the bronze position with 24 points (Kullman has 21). A discard race has now taken effect. Breezes at 10 knots, including gusts to 14, greeted the 27 teams on the middle day of the Championship. Following Kullman in the opening bout was Chris Griffin’s Kill Bill and Justin Howard’s Rosebud. Alexander, the 2014 VX One North American champion, took the next victory, with Ched Proctor’s Flash Rider in second and Kullman in third. Kullman, Griffin and Proctor claimed the top spots in Saturday’s third race, and some familiar names did the same in the final contest (Kullman, Alexander, Griffin). Complete results are available by clicking here. Photos are posted on the VX One Class Facebook page.

Potter/Guggenheim Team Jump to Lead at VX One Midwinter Championship

Three races were completed today for 28 teams competing in the VX One Midwinter Championship hosted by Sarasota Sailing Squadron in Florida. In winds ranging from 6-10 knots, John Potter and David Guggenheim have taken the early advantage after posting a 6,1,1 for 8 points. Justin Howard (13 points) and Donovan Brennan/Tim Pitts (16 points) laid claim to the top three. The husband/wife team of Jeff and Keven Eiber took the gun in race one, followed by Howard and then Phip Hallowell. Potter and Guggenheim earned the first of two bullets in race two, with designer Brian Bennett in second and the Michael Norris family in third. Howard notched another silver finish in the day’s final contest, trailed by the Brennan/Pitts duo. Racing continues through Sunday. Complete results for this event and the entire Winter Series (which began in November and concludes next month) are available on the event website ( Photos are posted on the VX One Class Facebook page.

VX One Midwinters Action Heating Up

VX One momentum is growing with ever larger fleets showing the pure fun and easy performance of this true thoroughbred one design. Twenty-seven VX Ones are expected in Sarasota, Florida for this weekend’s Midwinter Championship, drawing from fleets that are growing throughout the Great Lakes, Oklahoma, Texas, Gulf Coast, New England and the Southeast. The VX One is absolute one design and has a true Corinthian feel to it, with a great blend of family sailors and experienced sportboat and one design competitors all sharing their experiences and good times on the race course. Racing runs Friday through Sunday. Follow the exciting action at the event website ( and the VX One Class Facebook page.

Fleet Reports

Update from Fleet (Awesome) 8
This upcoming weekend, the boat show will be coming to St. Pete. Having no experience with boats or sailing before marrying my husband Andy, I vividly remember my first boat show – the very same one, in December of 2011. Between trips to the outdoor bar, we toured what seemed like hundreds of boats – some power boats, but mainly cruising sail boats. Toward the end of the afternoon, I spotted something that looked a little different and fun. “That looks like the kind of boat you’d like,” I vividly remember saying to my new husband. We headed over to check it out. Tucked in a back corner at the end of a dock were Brian Bennett and David Guggenheim with the VX prototype, #101. One trip out in the bay, and we were sold. My husband is not quick to make expensive decisions, but I think the fact that I was in love with the boat was all he needed. He was ready to write a check that day. Three years later, we are very much in love with our VX and the VX family. It has been a wonderful platform for me to learn to crew on a sailboat, and after a blowing weekend last month in Sarasota, I have overcome any sailing fears I may have harbored in the past. It has also been great for Andy and me both to spend time with his sons Richard and Phillip as they have sailed with us in several regattas. We are beyond excited to have some growing interest in Tampa Bay and the west coast Florida area. Robert Bilthouse’s boat at Davis Island Yacht Club in Tampa has been our newest addition. We also have added Paul Currie in Naples (or Canada) earlier this year. Robbie Brown and Doug Fisher have been doing a fantastic job promoting the boat in the Tampa Bay area and down in Sarasota. I can imagine that the Sarasota Sailing Squadron midwinter series will give us huge visibility and promotion that will really benefit our local fleet. In addition, we will once again be sailing in the St. Pete NOOD on Valentine’s weekend and would love to have some other boats join us in showing off its fantastic design and performance.
Beth Walford

Update from Fleet 6
Fleet 6 was “born” last Summer during Brian and Hayden’s demo in Holland, MI. Our Fleet covers the Great Lakes/Midwest, and we currently have four boats in our fleet with two new hot possibilities for Spring 2015. We had our official fleet debut in Sarasota with great racing and plenty of fun. For 2015, we are working on our racing schedule and have already confirmed our Great Lakes/Midwest championship for September 19-20, 2015 in Holland, MI.

Update from Fleet 1
Gulf Coast Fleet 1 sailed eight events in 2014; each consisting of 5-7 races. Four events in the spring and four events in the fall. Two events in the Florida Panhandle, two in Alabama, two in Louisiana, two in Mississippi. For participation, there were 7-9 boats at five events and 4-5 boats at three events. Fleet 1 is currently at nine boats; we gained a new boat, but lost a boat. All eight events were sailed in predominantly 12 knots or less breeze; with crew weights ranging from 320-420 lbs.; we all realized that while light is fast in 12 under, it really pays to be 420-460 in everything above 15. Last year’s fleet champion was the Frost/Bolyard combo on USA 128. This year’s fleet champion is Team Poor Decisions, Kevin Northrup on USA 148. Racing this year was very tight with any one of four boats able to win up until the last event in Pass Christian. When the dust settled, Northrup defeated Chris Alexander, 2014 North American Champion, by a slim 100th of a point. Cox/ Sprague scoring was used with the best 5 of 8 counted. For 2015, Gulf Coast Fleet 1 and Tex/Ok Fleet 4 will mesh racing schedules for at least two events (more on that in January). Pictured is the (almost complete) Fleet 1 Series Champion Trophy.
Sail Fast, Donovan Brennan, Fleet 1 CaptainFleetUpdateDec14

CONFESSIONS OF A FLEET WIFE: Life Lessons a la Regatta

CONFESSIONS OF A FLEET WIFE: Life Lessons a la Regatta
Sarasota Winter Series 2014-2015
Lesson One: Happy Chaos
By Gabrielle Corinne Schillinger

So when you walk into the Ritz Carlton in Sarasota, I bet you’re not supposed to do it in saltwater washed Deckbeaters, knotted hair and dripping mascara. And despite my best efforts to hide the nest on the top of my head with a well-placed baseball cap, the concierge was far from fooled. I was a mess. And I loved every minute of it.
Generally speaking, I would classify myself as, at the very least, put-together and at the most, compulsively organized. And clean. Very, very clean. So when my husband announced that we would be participating in the winter racing series in Sarasota, I instantly went online, found a great deal for direct flights and a beautiful (clean) room at the Ritz Carlton. A room, which we nearly instantly trashed with the chaos of gear: dirty clothes, somewhat dirty clothes, *sniff* mostly clean clothes, dripping skiff suits and gloves that, no matter what I did, refused to dry on an overnight schedule. And don’t get me started on what happened to the cargo area of our rental car. *Record scratch* Uh-oh.
What in the world was happening? I wasn’t really sure. Was there a method to the madness? Probably not: I have plenty of opinions about that “miscellaneous” Rubbermaid bin, Tim Pitts! But was there something to the OCD-mocking juxtaposition of “happy chaos?” Yes, as it turns out, there was.
When we left home, the weather was cold and damp: snow was rumored, proverbially, to be on our heels and we had to check a bag. For an efficiency-driven New Yorker, that’s a double whammy: a potential delay in one of the world’s largest airports and the nebula of “checked baggage.” You may as well have cut off my leg. But we made it out! And less than three hours later, we were basking in the ease and comfort of the Sarasota airport. Our bag was on the claim carousel long before we descended from the arrivals hall, and the rental car attendant smiled at me. I don’t even know what to say about that. But suffice it to say, I was reveling in the serenity of this warm and deft place called Sarasota. Then, less than 30 minutes after that, we were at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron being welcomed like family. It was shaping up to be a wonderful weekend; hope was springing as eternally as ever as we soaked in the sunshine and hugs from everyone in the vicinity.
And then it happened: the chaos. Now, I’m naturally a schedule-oriented individual. And I had an outstanding schedule for the weekend in my mind. I even shared it with my husband who just nodded and placatingly told me “it” sounded “good.” Then it went boom. In that third hour and thirty-first minute, in the midst of our friends and new-found family, “it” all went boom.
It turns out that rigging a boat for the first time since its voyage to Sarasota takes more time than I allotted to it. But I was undaunted! I was still going to check-in to the hotel, unpack gear, shower, buy groceries and have everything queued up for an easy Friday morning dash to the races, perhaps even a leisurely dinner with friends on Thursday night. Then, sometime between bargaining to eat lunch and realizing that there wasn’t enough room in the rental vehicle for me AND the gear, I relinquished myself to the now-swarming, dismal reality, one of my greatest fears: the unpredictable unknown of a schedule-less day and the fact that maybe things actually work better that way—gasp!
So I let go—eek! And it was awesome—double gasp! And it hit me, elbow deep and halfway through four institutionally sized pans of chicken kebabs, that, despite that seeming chaos, we were home. Imagine that: adrift in what my high-strung neuroses could only comprehend as mayhem disguised as boat preparation, I discovered that common thread that holds us all together as one very special class. The VX One Class.
And so the sun rose on Friday and the Skippers’ Meeting was buzzing with anticipation and nervous energy. I, myself, was experiencing an excitement I didn’t fully understand. For example, I was willing to be the third crew on my husband’s boat, having absolutely no experience on a VX One. This is my “you really have no idea how out of character that is for me” face; or maybe you do at this point. But almost as soon as the boats were lowered into the water, the skies turned overcast and a fresh breeze swept over the water. From there on, Day One was about adjustments. Teams struggled at first to find their comfort zone on the downwind legs. The RIBs, which we were using for photography and social media purposes, even retrieved a few resilient sailors from the water and returned them to their boats. In the end, four races were attempted, but only three finished successfully. One race was abandoned due to a particularly wily weather mark while three boats were forced to retire, early. Nonetheless, spirits were high, and the camaraderie was impressive. As the boats attempted the docking dance in the blustery conditions, some rather drenched but enthusiastic sailors attended to the rigging and designed grand plans for the following day. The day concluded with lively participation in the annual meeting demonstrating, yet again, that this wasn’t just a weekend of play to the Class members but a whole hearted attempt to be a united Class—a Class for world-class contention.
Saturday delivered slightly more sunshine and an earlier start to the racing for Day Two. Conditions were milder with less chop than Friday, and some clear leaders emerged from the spirited competition. Teams seemed to have benefited from the demanding conditions on Friday as evidenced by cozier starts and tighter groupings to the marks. In fact, some mark roundings were so tight that they kept us quite busy on the social media side of things, snapping action shots for Facebook and finding diplomatic ways to say “that was almost a disaster” on Twitter. And while conditions slowly deteriorated toward the end of the day, almost every boat finished four races. Back on shore, some particularly memorable land-based roundings were accompanied by a fantastic live band, courtesy of the Sqaudron. Impromptu dance party? Now you’re speaking my language. Tweeting that was easy! #boogiewitchu.
But even boogie shoes need a break and, physics is real, so along came Sunday, bloody Sunday. (No pun intended, Bono; the citizens of NYC wish you well). And while the sunshine was profuse on Day Three, so was the chop. The start gun was moved up, and the course was adjusted to accommodate the conditions but only one race was finished. It was an athletic hike through the course for the teams but it showcased, in magnificent fashion, the true agility of the VX One and the unadulterated fun the challenges bring. And while we laughed on the RIB about the multiple rogue waves that appeared to have it out for me, and my live tweeting, the conditions claimed their fair share of approaches on the downwind leg. Nonetheless, teams scrambled in earnest competitive spirit to put on an impressive display of endurance and heart. The boats came in pretty hot to the docks that day through the gusts and swirling sustained winds but, as the crane lifted boat after boat out of the water, the general consensus was that, “That was awesome!” And I’d have to agree.
The awards ceremony on Sunday afternoon only solidified what I had come to realize throughout the weekend: that this wasn’t about the pursuit of individual passion, but rather a shared love for a sport and an appreciation for a boat and its family that makes it all possible. From New England to Michigan to Texas, Alabama and Florida itself, the members of the Class sat together, celebrating the victory of three young newcomers and cheering for the tenacity of a mother-father-son team that stuck it out despite challenges. In the end, through the recognition of some hard fought races, the laughter over some epic cooler saves and the jeers for a team that rounded the mark and tried to take it with them, it was clear that the weekend was a success for everyone involved.
So yeah, it may not have conformed to the perfectly detailed schedule in my head, and it may have taken an hour to figure out whose deckbeaters were in the back of my rental but a warm welcome, an impromptu dance party and a shared success? It turns out “happy chaos” is real.

Michael Norris and Family Earn First Weekend Victory at VX ONE Winter Series

It was a family affair at the top of the leaderboard for the opening weekend of the VX One Winter Series. Michael, Christina, Robert and Phillip Norris bested 21 other teams at Sarasota Sailing Squadron to take the advantage in the three-weekend series, which continues through March 2015. The family team on Flash Rider notched 19 points in the eight races, with a line of 3,2,2,(7),2,2,4,4. Despite five bullets, Jeff Jones’ Animal had to settle for second place with 21 points. Sam and Josh Padnos were just one point back in third with 22 points. The Padnos team claimed the remaining three bullets over the weekend. The conditions challenged and excited competitors during the three-day event, with winds consistently in the mid-teens and above, keeping teams on the edge downwind between blazing speeds and losing control. The building breeze culminated on Sunday with gusts into the high 20s when racing was ended for the day. The Winter Series continues on January 30-February 1, 2015 (Midwinter Championship) and March 20-22, 2015 at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron. Visit for complete results and series information, and the VX One Class Facebook page for photos and video.

Fleet One Championship

Fleet One capped off its yearlong eight-regatta circuit with the first annual Fleet One Championship regatta. Seven boats from the Northern Gulf Coast and Texas made the trip to Pass Christian Yacht Club located on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Saturday greeted the sailors with temps in the 40’s and a light and shifty easterly breeze that led to many lead changes across the race course. Despite the variable conditions, PCYC’s Sailing Director Zeke Fairbanks and team did a great job, hammering out five races.

Racing was extremely tight with many crowded mark roundings and close finishes, but the day belonged to USA 148 (Kevin Northrop/Judd Chamberlain) at 7 points and Team Animal (Jeff Jones/Rod Vela) at 11 points.

Forecasts for Sunday called for a solid 15+ southeasterly, but unfortunately the frontal breeze never materialized. The race committee wisely postponed the scheduled 10:25 a.m. warning gun, allowing several sailors to recover from the “southern hospitality” and still make the sixth race.

Race six started in a 5kt easterly that lasted long enough for Team Smuggler (Donnie Brennan/Tim Pitts) to take the victory in yet another close race. With the breeze dying to zero, the RC called it a day giving the Fleet One Championship to USA 148 followed by Animal in 2nd place and Team Smuggler — whose victory in the last race allowed them to win a tie break over Chris Alexander’s 124 — in third place.

Many thanks to PCYC’s Sailing Director Zeke Fairbanks, Manager Clark Brennan, and Cathy Rayburn for the warm hospitality and delicious breakfast and lunch on Sunday.