JK3 Yachts reached out to Ullman Sails and offered to let us use a J-70 for the Hot Rum Series in San Diego California. The Hot Rum Series consists of three random leg races with over 100 boats competing for the top spot. JK3 Yachts have three J-70’s available for purchase and they generously loaned them out to generate some interest and display the boats at a top venue. 4 J/70s were in our fleet and 3 of those were loaned to the top sailors in Southern California. With Ullman, and two other big sail makers bringing their best sails and their best sailors to represent their lofts, it was shaping up to be a great head to head contest that only a true one design class can provide.
The Hot Rum has an inverted start where the slowest boats start first and the fastest boats have to chase them down as they charge through the fleet. The start line was heavily biased to port and we had a strategy to win the pin. At the start, one of the J/70’s set their spinnaker a little early and rounded up. This allowed us to dip under them and start near the pin with speed. World Champion Star Sailor and Louis Vuitton Cup Vetran Eric Doyle was just to leeward of us and we felt that the advantage was ours.
It was a very tight reach to the first mark as we left San Diego Harbor. We managed to roll the J-70 to leeward of us and we now in an even better position. Our goal now was to avoid potential carnage as we sped by plethora the slower boats that started in front us. The guys that had previously rounded up on the line managed to stay above the fray and in clear air. This allowed them to jump out to a little lead by the first mark. Unfortunately we were held up by the wind shadow of a big wood Pacific Class boat allowing Eric Doyle to just get by us and round the mark in second.
Downwind we had extremely good boat speed compared to the other boats. We gobbled up one boat passing them and cut the lead on the other by 99% to round the bottom mark hot on their heels.
Off the bottom mark we were both locked in a drag race to get to the shore and get help from the eddy that would push us closer to the finish. With one of the J/70’s on our leebow we were in a tight spot. But thanks to the powerful and easy to tune Ullman sails we were very comfortably able to hold our lane and go forward, getting us out of trouble. On the beat to windward we tacked on a few shifts to get over to cover Eric Doyle on the left of us, while making steady gains on the boys inshore of us. We anticipated that once we all tacked we would be ahead of both boats. We flopped over and hit the perfect lay line in to the last top mark.
Once we rounded the last mark it was all port tack right into the finish where we had the impossible task of fending off the half dozen J/105s that came storming up from behind.
We crossed the line as the first J/70 and first in class (PHRF 4). The Ullman team consisted of trimmer/tactician Dusty Durant of the Long Beach Match Racing team, and jib trimmer/bow girl extraordinaire Sarah Curran, and me, Phil Toth on helm. It was a pleasure sailing with such a rock star team.