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 www.vxonemw.com 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.

Charlie Cumbley and Andy Couch win the VX One UK Nationals at Torquay

A damp and misty start in Torquay disguised the fact that a 7 knot NNE breeze had settled into the bay, allowing race 7 to start on time at 10.30am on Sunday. The fleet went away cleanly with crews fully hiking upwind for the first time in the championship. After snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in the final race on Saturday, Peter Barton and Miles Mence started fast at the pin end to command the race from beginning to end. Holding off a last-minute charge from Charlie Cumbley and Andy Couch, a jubilant Pete said after the race, “Finally! We had our opportunity to win a race yesterday, we should have, but it didn’t go right for us. The Ovington guys are doing a great job of introducing friendship in the VX One with a bar tab for half price beers, it’s really friendly and it’s nice to see them sharing the wins today and good to see Charlie and Andy just ease off the gas at the last minute to share it about a little bit. Miles teased them for a bit with a couple of gybes, but in the end we just went for speed and had them.” The race team quickly turned the fleet around to start race 8. Neil Harris and Phil Rumbelow, who was involved in a couple of incidents yesterday, came good again to take their second race win of the championship. Neil said after the race, “No turns today. Philip was complaining he was getting so dizzy that he didn’t want any more sea sickness in this race, so we played it very calm and cool and it worked well! Going out to sea on the last run was the decisive moment in the race; we took a gybe, stayed in the pressure and came in on the lay line and nailed it. We’d set ourselves a target of an aggregate score of 6 points for the day, so we have to win twice more now.” Just after midday the sun started burning through the morning mist. With it, race 9 started in the best winds of the championship so far. Once again Peter Barton and Miles Mence nailed the start and went on to take a commanding win. On getting to grips with the VX One Peter said, “It’s just a big Firefly really, it’s a matter of sniggling your way up the wind shifts in the offshore breeze. I’m very much enjoying today’s racing, we’re starting to find a few grooves, a few modes, and it’s a matter of exploiting them a little.” Miles Mence on crewing for Pete in the VX One said, “It’s great, it’s a lovely boat and it’s very nice crewing for Pete. He tells you what’s going on the whole time and it’s a big discussion – I’m learning a lot.” Charlie Cumbley and Andy Couch’s second place ensured them of the inaugural VX One National Championship title. The final race of the day saw Barton and Mence once again power away from the fleet on the start. While the rest of the fleet battled at the committee boat end, Pete and Miles spotted a slight shift, diving for the pin and then crossing the fleet on their first tack. They once again controlled the race to take their third bullet of the day and moved up to second in the overall results. Charlie and Andy consolidating their victory with yet another 2nd place, their fourth of the day. Peter Rumbelow’s Royal Torbay Yacht Club team have displayed impeccable race management throughout the event, making the best use of the fickle breeze on Friday and Saturday and packing four good races in with the better breeze on Sunday. Peter’s wife Kay has been uploading the results almost instantly after each race, giving a very clear leader board as the championship unfolded. Racing in Torbay provides superb sea sailing with minimal tides while the club has excellent facilities ashore and good food at a very reasonable price. All in all a great championship venue. Charlie Cumbley said in the prize giving, “A massive thank-you to the club who’ve been fantastic hosts and obviously all the help from the sponsors. Peter and the race team did an amazing job getting 10 races in, looking at the forecast it looked pretty horrific so an awesome job with great courses. Also a massive thanks to Ovington for letting us use one of their boats which I have to say is a fantastic bit of kit. I hope the class goes from strength to strength from now on.” To see pictures and complete results, click here.

Hood Regatta

Houston Yacht Club was the host for six VX ONE teams from Oklahoma and Texas last weekend during the Houston Open One-Design Regatta or HOOD. Saturday brought four good races with winds blowing 10-12 kts and flat water. Racing was tight all day with three teams claiming first place finishes. Shawn Cina managed to win two and hold off Vernon Green to lead the day. Sunday winds were lighter at 5-10 kts and shifty. Once again racing was close but Vernon Green managed to find the right place to be on the water and closed out the day with three bullets moving him into a solid first place for the regatta. Shawn Cina dropped to second, and Matt Haddon sailing on a boat borrowed from Rod Vela locked up third. The Race Committee did an outstanding job of keeping the 4 fleets on the Division 3 race course moving without down time between races all weekend long. Thanks to Rod Vela and JD Hill for providing the fleet with plenty of cold drinks between races and a big thank you to the regatta organizers, HYC staff and sponsors of the event for making sure the VX Ones were all well take care of both on and off the water.

Gulf Coast Championship

The VX One Class started to show off its strength and future potential this past weekend with two regional events on the same weekend, each drawing great turnouts with amazing sailing. Thank you to Tim Pitts for the following report: I want to share the great experience I had this weekend in the Gulf Coast Championship at Buccaneer Yacht Club. I got the invite to come sail with Fleet 1 by Fleet Captain Donnie Brennan. I had a great time with the whole fleet, and we had 10 boats registered. The regatta was a two-day event, however the boats arriving on Friday afternoon were welcomed by the commodore & local fleet members, offering to help or even stand in as crew if needed. Once on the water, we had a six-boat tuning session for about an hour. After getting off the water, we had a welcoming/skippers meeting at the club. The first race was at 11:30 on Saturday, but you wouldn’t have known that by looking at the dock, as it was nearly empty at 10:30. Everyone was eager to get out and sail in the building northerly. The racing was epic in the four races on Saturday, each having a different winner and lead changes every leg. The best part was it was just clean tight racing. I did not hear one sailor raise their voice, maybe with exception of when I ripped my pants during the last race, but that’s a “whole ‘nother story.” Once on shore, the fleet was treated to an amazing meal that cost $10. Sunday racing was just as tight, and the race committee was able to get two great races off in a dying breeze. 
My biggest takeaways: 
• All boats seem to be equally quick, being brand new or three years old 
• You can be fast with 2 or 3 people 
• Top three boats all used different sailmakers 
• No one is really off the pace 
• Everyone is excited about the Winter Series (20 plus boats for Sarasota + 30 likely for Bacardi) 
By the numbers: 
• 10 boats registered 
• 6 races sailed 
• 4 different race winners 
• 3 won by crews sailing 3 up 
• 3 won by double-handers 
• 2 husband and wife teams 
• 1 point decided the winner – (we lost) 
• 0 complaints about the regatta

2015 North American Championship Confirmed 

The 2015 VX One North American Championship is confirmed for Gulfport Yacht Club from October 3-7, 2015. Here are unofficial, preliminary plans: 
NAC Measurement – Saturday, October 3 
Measurement and practice race – Sunday, October 4 
NAC racing – Monday to Wednesday, October 5 –7 
Thursday, October 8 – rig VX Ones for Championship of Champions and practice race (proposed) 
Friday to Sunday, October 8-10 – Championship of Champions (proposed) 
The NAC runs back to back with the US Sailing Championship of Champions for which the VX One has been the selected for 2015. We are going to need 21 boats for the C of Cs. This opportunity comes at a key time for the growth of our Class and all owners are asked to consider the gracious use of your boat following the NAs for the C of Cs. Bennett Yachting and Fleet 1 members are dedicated to making both these events notable for our Class. We will also be asking those who can hang around and assist and spectate to do so. This can also be the staging point for moving boats back down to Florida for the 2015/16 winter series. Yes, it’s more than a year out, but now is not too late to start capitalizing on this opportunity to grow our Class.

Chris Alexander Commands VX ONE North American Championship

Chris Alexander’s Isabelita dominated the standings at the VX ONE North American Championship to claim the title with 19 points. No races occurred on Saturday, after nine races were completed Thursday and Friday. Hosted by Newport Yacht Club in Newport, Rhode Island, Phip Hallowell and Chuck Brown’s The Wagon placed second with 39 points, and Tom Chiginsky’s VX140 rounded out the top three with 50 points. Nineteen VX Ones registered, representing Canada, New Zealand, the Virgin Islands and the United States. Visit www.vxonenac.com for complete results.

Chris Alexander Takes Charge at VX ONE North American Championship

Chris Alexander’s Isabelita notched a 1,2,2,4,2 in Friday’s five races at the VX ONE North American Championship to take a commanding advantage into the final day of competition. Hosted by Newport Yacht Club in Newport, Rhode Island, Alexander has totaled 19 points with a line of 2,(5),4,2,1,2,2,4,2. Phip Hallowell and Chuck Brown’s The Wagon moved into second place (44 points), and Tom Chiginsky’s VX140 remains in third (50 points). After Alexander won Friday’s opening bout (with Kevin Northrop in the silver position and Lawrence Frost’s Flash Gordon in the bronze), Brian Bennett won the next four contests. Alexander was runner up in race six, and the Hallowell/Brown team third. Alexander again took second in race seven, as Chiginsky followed. Jim Myers’ Satisfaction grabbed second in the day’s fourth battle, with Hallowell & Brown behind. Alexander returned to the number two spot in the day’s last race, trailed by Myers. Racing concludes Saturday for the 19 VX Ones, representing Canada, New Zealand, the Virgin Islands and the United States. Visit www.vxonenac.com for complete results.