An already fun winter sailing schedule for the VX One just
became more fun. That’s right. The VX One Class received a special invitation
to return to the Bacardi Invitational Regatta for 2020. With such late notice,
only eight boats made the trek across Alligator Alley last week to retest the
waters of Biscayne Bay. These eight teams were treated to spectacular sailing
conditions for all three days.
The first four races had four different winners and the
points remained extremely close throughout the event. In fact, the event lead
may have changed after each race. After each day of racing, the fun kept going
as Bacardi and numerous other sponsors treated us to free libations and fun in
the hanger at Shake-A-Leg Miami. The Bacardi Family were also in attendance for
the final night and prize giving.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention Sandy Askew’s
generosity in allowing the fleet to utilize her support boat and coach
throughout the event. I truly feel that most teams were able to take something
away from this event due to this fleet asset.
With a huge thanks to longtime VX One sailor Tim Pitts, not
only did the VX One Class get the special invitation to this event, but we were
also given our own staging area with parking, dockage and our own hoist. If we
continue to grow our fleet for this event, this staging area should be able to
accommodate us for years to come. Dockage will get slim. However, Tim promises
The event organizers are very interested in having us back
in 2021 and beyond. They recognize the growth of the class and would like to
see us back with 20+ boats as in years past. Obviously, we have a decision to
make as a class whether we want to add a 5th event to or busy winter
schedule or swap this event in for an existing event. I’m sure the board will
be discussing this issue shortly. Stay tuned and keep in touch with your fleet
captain if you have any thoughts or concerns.
A broad mix of conditions at the VX One Winter Series #3 made for an extremely fun yet challenging event for each team on Sarasota Bay February 8th and 9th. Chilly temperatures and great breeze early Saturday were short lived and competitors were greeted with classic Florida weather and a dying breeze into the afternoon. Conditions Saturday forced teams to be on their toes tactically as well as with checking/adjusting the rig with each new race given the gradual drop in breeze throughout the day. VX 269 found their success with consistently strong starts allowing the team to hitch into the first line of pressure and correct phase early into the expanding portion of their first beats. Although sailing the best angle to the marks were always important, as the breeze backed off significantly, teams were forced to put a premium on finding the best pressure on the course and worrying about the shift afterwards. Keeping the boat moving fast forward would eventually help out with angle too; however, this was challenging given the differential in wind velocity by the end of the day. Overpowering puffs and cratering lulls pressed teams to change gears efficiently. In the larger puffs, vang sheeting prior to being hit was essential to keeping proper sail shape as the main was eased to depower which translated into speed. As the puff moved on or as we sailed into lulls, it was vital to readjust the vang to slack and put the bow down a couple degrees to keep the momentum fast forward. By keeping the boat speed up in the lull, any net loss in angle was quickly made up for with speed.
Sunday provided the exact opposite range of breeze conditions as seen on Saturday. A moderate wind velocity gusting into the mid-teens was welcomed across the fleet and teams sailing three-up were excited to see a steady build throughout the day. Sailflow recorded stingers up to 30kts before the Race Committee pulled the plug on a potential Race 7 which concluded the event. As the breeze started to ramp up it was vital that teams were adjusting their rig and depowering as necessary. The most important factor in teams’ success on Sunday in the big breeze was simply staying in control. Whether it was upwind or downwind, broaching the boat and losing control for minutes on end separated the fleet vertically and very quickly. It was encouraging to see most of the boats start each race and give it their best shot. Although losing control contributed to some teams having to retire from races early, the most comfortable teams were able to hit boat speeds well into the high teens!
The second stop of the VX One Winter Series and the 2020 Midwinter Championship was hosted by Sarasota Sailing Squadron this past weekend in sunny Florida. With 36 boats on the starting line, the second stop of the winter series was the largest yet, and showed competitive racing in challenging conditions.
On Saturday, Sarasota Bay put the fleet to work as a 14kt easterly stuck around long enough for the first race, before dying and shifting and eventually settling in a 10kt south easterly for the remainder of the day. Marty Kullman, in hull 116, took the first bullet of the regatta. Once on land, North Sails experts Mike Marshall, Jackson Benvenutti and Austin Powers led a debrief following the days three races. The standings after day one were Hayden Bennett (NZL 269) on top followed by Marty Kullman (USA 116) and Doug Clark (USA 308).
Sunday saw a more consistent southerly breeze throughout the day and allowed race organizers to complete four races well before the 3pm cutoff. Michelle Warner in Tudo Bem (USA 296), won the first race of the day. The conditions held steady with overcast skies to allow competitors to battle for the podium. At the end of seven races, Hayden Bennett held on to his lead and took the Midwinter Championship title. Amy Kleinschrodt with sons Paul and Karl captured second, followed by Chris Alexander.
Thank you to all the competitors who made this winter series stop the largest yet! The next event will be Winter Series #3 on February 8-9 held at Sarasota Sailing Squadron. Full photo gallery to come soon.
Top 5 at VX One Midwinter Championship: 1. Hayden Bennett, NZL 269 2. Amy Kleinschrodt, USA 196 3. Chris Alexander, USA 276 4. Doug Clark, USA 308 5. Michelle Warner, USA 296
The first event of the 2019-2020 VX Winter Series is complete with John Potter and Christian Koppernaes on 187 taking the top spot. Hayden Bennett on 269 and Stanley Hassinger on 154 rounded out the podium. The key to doing well this weekend was who could handle the variety of wind and wave conditions the best. Saturday saw gusty winds over 20kts with choppy seas, while Sunday was calm with light and shifty winds. The series continues January 18-19!
December 14-15, January 18-19, February 8-9, March 20-22
Please note that the March event will have a separate registration link (CLICK HERE) as it is run in conjunction with the Sarasota One Design Midwinters. It will be scored as part of the overall series.
36 VX Ones gathered in Newport, Rhode Island from September 19-22 to race in the 2019 North American Championship. Class expert and designer Mike Marshall, sailing with North Sails design expert Madeline Gill and Jo Ann Fisher, dominated over the largest fleet in class history, with only one finish out of the top three. Newport breezes were shy for the first two days, and it wasn’t until Sunday’s seabreeze filled that the team was able to fully showcase the versatility of the North Sails inventory. North-powered teams finished 1,2,3,5,6,7,8,9,10.
Mike Marshall commented after the event:
“North Sails offers the fastest VX One sails on the market. The main allows for a wide range of rig tuning. You are able to ease the lower shrouds in light air to get headstay sag, but also tighten them in the bigger breeze to get headstay tension. The jib pairs well with the main, allowing for tight in-hauling and hard sheeting. The AP spinnaker is perfect for all the different modes, from slightly more bow down, almost planing mode in light air, to the much higher planing mode in medium and heavy air.”
Here’s their recipe for their success:
Madeline Gill had never sailed with Mike before, but as the team trimmer she says that consistency was the biggest factor in their success. “We formed a conservative plan and stuck to it – arrive early to the venue, launch the boat as soon as everything has been checked over, and get off the dock before as many other boats as possible. We quickly settled into a reliable routine that allowed us to focus fully on our individual responsibilities and quickly bounce back from most mistakes.”
Before each race, Madeline explains, the team would sail upwind to get a visual on the power in the sails. “We would then make minor adjustments to the rig tune to have adequate power in the lightest breeze we expected, without sacrificing too much depowering ability. We rarely adjusted any shroud more than one turn between races. Even when things weren’t going our way and we were not sailing well, we resisted making large scale or multiple changes.”
Build Before You Burn
Mike adds that the key to speed in the VX One is to “match the speed of the boats around you before you match the angle. The chord of the keel and rudder are short; in order for them to work efficiently, the boat has to be going fast. If you ever felt like you were not pointing with the boats around you, it was probably because you weren’t moving fast enough forward. As the boat speed increases, the boat slides sideways less so it feels like you are pointing higher than the boats around you. For most of the event, I think that we kept the driving telltales of the jib with the windward one at 45 degrees lifted and the leeward one straight. If we were a little low on point, but faster than the boats around us, I would trim the main harder. If were were still low, I would potentially trim the jib a little harder, but not to the point where the top leech telltale was stalling.”
Flat Is Fast
Another part of making sure that the boat is going fast is to be able to get the bow down; Mike points out that can only happen with the boat flat, upwind and downwind. “In most conditions, I was looking to sail the boat with 8 degrees of leeward heel upwind and slightly more than that downwind. Only half of the hull is in the water, but it’s still a nice planing hull shape. Any more heel and the leeward corner is digging in, loading the rudder. Any less heel and the wetted surface is causing extra drag. When I was overpowered, I absolutely had to ease the mainsheet—in the biggest breeze, as much as two feet. Lighter teams might have to ease it a bit more, while heavier ones will have to ease it less.”
“I really couldn’t say it enough times all weekend!” Mike laughs. “The harder we hiked, the less I had to ease the mainsheet to get the boat flat. I’m quite sure that my team was tired of hearing me say “big hike here,” but it really is a difference-maker and in looking at the event photos, we were one of the hardest-hiking teams.”
Forward crew Jo Ann Fisher says that tuning was a constant discussion on the boat. “Between every race, we would go upwind and check the rig. We were looking for the leeward upper shroud to be just going slack. If it wasn’t, we would put turns on the uppers. Once that was done, we would look for overbend wrinkles coming from the spreaders toward the clew, about halfway back in the sail. Any farther back, and we would tighten the diagonals until it went away. Any farther forward, we would loosen the diagnonals. Then we’d move our eyes down the sail, looking for overbend wrinkles from the gnav attachment to the clew. To reduce them, we would put a turn on the checks. From the lightest air to the windiest, we only adjusted the checks three turns. As with all tuning, the key is to be sailing upwind in race mode before you check: jib trimmed, vang on (if needed), and crew hiking hard.”
Another topic Jo Ann mentioned was fore-aft weight placement. “Upwind in light air, we were trying to get as far forward as possible. If you could hear bubbles come out from behind the boat, you were too far back; if you took two or three waves over the bow, you were too far forward. Downwind too, we pressed as far forward as possible in light air. Mike was to windward sitting on the floor, Madeline was a little more to leeward, and I was sitting out leeward.”
In bigger breeze, Jo Ann says the team moved a half body width back from the shrouds upwind. “Downwind, we moved to all sitting on the weather side and then to all hiking a body width back from the shouds. Again, the goal was to not hear any bubbles from behind the boat. When you are planing, it is more about keeping the bow out, but unless the wide part of the boat near the mast is digging in, you don’t need to move any further back.”
Finally, Jo Ann points out that the team’s communication was crystal clear, well in advance of each maneuver. “At five minutes to the start, we knew where we’d start and what we were going to do upwind. 10-15 boat lengths before the windward mark, we knew what boats we would be ducking and whether we would be setting the kite at the offset (or before) and going straight, or looking to jibe. Three quarters of the way down the run, we knew which gate we’d round and which way we wanted to go upwind. It was not a lot of words, but everyone was prepared. Some of the biggest opportunities to pass boats is at marks, so knowing what the plan is long before you get to them is critical to having a good rounding.”
Sunday closed out the third and final VX One Winter Series at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron. After drifting for hours, Sarasota waved goodbye to the VX One fleet with a solid 8-10kt sea breeze to add two final races to the series. While no sailing was had on Saturday, plenty of swimming and piña coladas passed the time. Friday proved to never underestimate the ability of mother nature when an under 6kt forecast turned into 12-14kts and blue skies, making for the best racing of the March stop. At the end of the 6-race series, class President Jeff Eiber took home 1st place, followed by Sam Padnos in 2nd and Bill Lydens rounding off the podium in 3rd.
Working backwards, the Sarasota Sailing Squadron welcomed the VX One class back in February for the second event of the series. This two-day event brought sunny skies, warm weather and 15kt breezes to make for competitive racing. Ian Maccini, of Blue Lobster, commented that “it is more than just a competitive fleet that makes this class, it’s the venue [Sarasota Sailing Squadron] that keeps us sailing and coming back.” 7 races were enough to let father-son duo and VX One designer Brian and Hayden Bennett to win a tie breaker with Jeff Eiber for 1st place. Eiber claimed a strong 2nd place, followed by Canadian Paul Currie in 3rd. The first event of the VX One Winter Series in January tested the fleets ability to handle heavy breeze and produced some of the most exciting racing of the series. Saturday showed steady 20kts with gusts into the thirties. The class handled the conditions well, with the all-girls team JUGS (Just Us Girls Sailing), comprised of Kelly Cole’s 148, managing to stay upright while hitting a top speed of 17.9kts during the first downwind of the day. Sunday was out of range, with gusts into the 40s, for the VX One class but that didn’t stop their competitive spirit that they took to the go karting track, unfortunately those points did not count overall, just bragging rights. Sarasota Bay once again kept the fleet on their toes and tested their abilities on Monday with breeze that was light and shifty. Chris Alexander was able to connect the puffs to bring home 1st place, followed by Paul Currie in 2nd and John Potter in 3rd.