Newport, RI…… With most boatyards and boats still under shrinkwrap, and the Volvo Ocean
Race just into town, J/121 owners gathered for the first J/121 Spring Tune-Up at the Newport
Shipyard. Eight owners from as far as England, Japan and Oregon sailed on four locally
launched boats and enjoyed two days of coaching to kick off the 2018 sailing season. Friday
afternoon’s session was led by Kimo Worthington and Chuck Allen of North Sails and included
onboard coaches Alan Terhune, Reed Baldridge, Jack Orr, Kerry Klingler (Quantum Sails) and
Wayne Zittel (J/World). Most boats sailed with 6 crew not including coaches.
As this was the first time two or more J/121s had sailed alongside each other, the learning
curve was steep. Hulls #1 (INCOGNITO) and #2 (APOLLO) showed early speed thanks to
previous time in the boat, but as the session went on hull #4 (ALCHEMY) and #6 (EAGLE) dialed
right in.
The on-the-water session was followed up with refreshments and a debrief back at the dock,
with each team sharing their top 2-3 take-aways.  Saturday’s forecast was for wet weather and variable winds – perfect for Open Course round
the island style racing! From the comforts of the MJM 50Z “ZING” (captained by Bob
Johnstone), the race committee sent the fleet clockwise around Conanicut Island (a 20 mile
track) with the course divided into 6 individual legs (to be scored separately as well as overall).
In true distance race fashion, the starting line was set up square
to the first mark (Beavertail Point) in an easterly wind, meaning
the boats would start on a close reach on port tack. 
David Southwell’s ALCHEMY nailed the start at the committee
boat with the big A2 kite trimmed tightly in the 8 knot wind,
with INCOGNITO close behind with main and jib. APOLLO
opted for the Code 0, and once things cleared INCOGNITO
unrolled the Code 0 and EAGLE hoisted the A2. It became clear
a few minutes into the race that the A2 could be carried, and
with its bigger size (155m2 vs. 104m2), was a speed advantage
that allowed both ALCHEMY and EAGLE to surge ahead and
round Beavertail comfortably ahead. The fleet jibed at
Beavertail and proceeded north against the current on a tight
starboard tack reach. With lighter breeze in the bay the leaders slowed, and thanks to carrying
a Code 0 closer to shore, APOLLO was able to pass the leaders and win the second leg, which
was shortened at the Red Bell south of Dutch Island.

Thanks to the flexible nature of the event, and the ability of the race committee to “reset the
fleet” after any given leg, the teams were instructed to take a lunch break and proceed under
engine to the northern end of the island where a steadier s
outheasterly was filling in.
Taking advantage of the MJM’s ability to hover in place on a precise GPS coordinate, a starting
line was set up in seconds using a government marker as the port end, and the fleet was sent
off on a short windward sprint to the northeast corner of Conanicut, followed by a long port
tack favored beat to the Newport Bridge (featuring lots of tacking along the shore to keep out
of the building flood current), and finally to the finish line just off the Volvo Race village at Fort
Adams. INCOGNITO got the early jump to win the first windward leg (Leg 3), and then after 8
miles of short tacking the Conanicut shoreline, ALCHEMY came through to win the final two legs and the first ever J/121 fleet event. Three of the four boats won an individual leg (measured by
elapsed time). EAGLE came within 10 seconds of winning a leg, and notably finished 2nd on
three out of the five legs. 
After racing, the teams were greeted dockside at Newport Shipyard with trays of Dark &
Stormy’s followed by a race debrief and awards.
All four boats had mobile phones equipped with the tracking app which were used
for both days to analyze the differences in performance. And, on Saturday’s “open course”
races, it also reflected how the teams chose sails and tactics as the fleet went around Conanicut
Island. Here are the 3D replay links:
Friday’s tuning session Saturday’s Round Island Race
J/121 upwind & downwind
Race 1- Dumplings Bell to Dutch Harbor Bell
Race 2- Red Nun (NW Jamestown to Red Nun
(Fort Adams)
The “open course” race was defined for the following legs, which you can see on the 3D replay:
 Leg 1- Dumplings Bell to Beavertail Bell
 Leg 2- Beavertail Bell to Dutch Harbor Bell
 Leg 3- Red Nun to Red Bell- top of Jamestown
 Leg 4- Red Bell (NE Jamestown) to Newport Bridge
 Leg 5- Newport Bridge to Red Nun (Fort Adams)
Coming up next in the area, four J/121s will be sailing in the 2018 Newport to Bermuda Race
starting June 15th and a total of five boats will be actively sailing in the New England area later
this summer.

Click to learn more about the J 121 and Murray Yacht Sales: